So many passwords, so little time, right? True. But, there are a few hidden passwords that are incredibly important to include in your master list. I normally would recommend AGAINST a written list of passwords. However, in this article I’m talking about 5 passwords you should write down and share with your trusted person! Most of these passwords are PINs or Combinations, but they are just as important as any of your digital passwords. If you are interested in using a password manager, read my article Why Military Families Need a Password Manager.
Your Phone Password (PIN)
Make sure your spouse/emergency contact knows how to get into your phone. My kids and husband know my phone password. But, if you live alone or have small children, make sure that your designated contact knows this PIN. We store A TON of our important information on our phones. If someone had to step in due to an emergency, our phone would provide contact information, email, and many other sources of invaluable information. Make sure your PIN is still hard enough to guess for someone with bad intentions. 1234- not good. 111111- nope. 112233- try again. Believe me, I’m not judging! These have all been my password at one time or another. Don’t be like me! Make sure your phone is secure! To read more about My 5 Biggest Password Mistakes click here.
Banking and ATM PINs
Different companies have different security measures whenever you call or log in. I know our cell phone company has a “phone password” which is different from my screen passcode. My bank has a second login PIN that is different from my login password. SHEESH! Trying to access these accounts for another person is nearly impossible! I tried to help my parents once with their cell phone bill. You would have thought I was trying to rob them blind by just trying to lower their bill. Make sure you write these somewhat forgotten passwords down as well!
Home Security System
Home Security Systems are great for military families. You get peace of mind if your loved one is deployed and you are alone. Plus, you don’t need to worry about your home when you travel. But, home security systems come with a lot of passwords, pins, and other measures to keep it all secure. You want to make sure that you have written down how to alarm (and disarm!) your home security system. If you have those cool little keypad lock on your front door, you should write that code down too. Lastly, our company required a phone password to disarm the system or to talk to a customer service rep. Lots of little passwords that you should write down and share with your trusted contact.
When my husband was deployed, I was so frustrated by not knowing our 5 letter password. For three days our doorbell (which was connected to the alarm system) would just start randomly going off in the middle of the night. This is a super awesome feeling when you’re alone with three kids. First, I would have a slight heart attack. Then, I would get up, check the front door, and nothing. I tried calling the company, but without that 5 letter passcode, no one would talk to me. Once I did reach my husband three days later, HE COULDN’T REMEMBER THE DANG PHONE PASSWORD EITHER! He had to call the company from Iraq, grant me access to the account, and set up an appointment for a technician to come out. (Lesson learned: Now I make sure I’m an authorized user on all accounts. I also make sure to write down any and all passwords!)
Safe and Lock Combinations
Make sure you have let someone know how to open safes, storage sheds, gates or locked tough boxes. During an emergency, someone may need to access these areas of your home. Write down the locations of the keys and the combinations. A quick note on your Password List could be very helpful in an emergency situation!
I recommend adding ALL of these passwords into you should put ALL of these passwords into your Password Manager. However, make sure that someone has the password to the password manager! A couple of years ago, my husband downloaded a password manager and started inputting all the passwords in there. But, I did not have the master password to access the information! Read about Why Military Families Need to Have a Password Manager here. (I am not affiliated with these companies, but I have personally used both for work and personal use. I believe both companies run military discounts periodically, and I would not recommend them unless I thought they were great products!)
In conclusion, my recommendation would be to keep the majority of your passwords in a digital password manager. But, there are a 5 passwords that you should write down and share…but just with that one trusted person. Make sure whoever you want to have access to these passwords knows how and where to access them. All it take is just a little planning to feel secure about what happens during an emergency. For a little deeper reading about this subject I recommend the following book in my Organization Inspiration (Book Review). The book In Case You Get Hit By a Bus, is a great reference and I highly recommend it!
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We started using a password share app with our family when the children went to college. It is so helpful. Thanks for the reminder.
It’s such a different world now with so many passwords and our dependency on technology. Just the other day, I had to access some information on a website. Even though I set-up and had recorded the passwords, something wasn’t working correctly. And because the main name was in my husband’s name, it wasn’t so straight-forward for me to gain access and change the password. We got it worked out, but it drives home your point. If something happened to me, would my husband or kids know how to access all of my info that is “locked” behind a screen or password? They know a lot, but I can improve this. Appreciate the reminder.
A little tidbit I learned about LastPass…in the family plan, you can grant another family member emergency access to your account. Then they would have a one-time use link. You can even set it to have a length of time before granting your emergency contact access (I believe LastPass will email you and you’d have an opportunity to deny the access). It’s a nice option to have in case the worst happens to you.
Although I’m not part of a military family — I’m a singleton — I’ve been creating a document of the essentials for the person with my financial Power of Attorney. I have all my 86yo mother’s passwords; we have a deal that she doesn’t create any password without conferring with me, so we can be sure it won’t get confused or lost before it gets recorded. But I haven’t yet worked on my LastPass emergency access plan, so this was a great reminder to do an audit of what I have going on. Great job!
At first I thought: Why not put all that in your PW manager? (In LastPass, I put the oddball stuff in Notes.) But then, yeah, people just don’t think of those things. So, good reminder! I don’t know how anyone functions without a PW manager these days. They must not have as many accounts as I do. Or they are reusing PWs so they can remember them, which of course I used to do too, but which is no longer a secure thing to do. In addition to phone PW I would add computer PW (if it’s secured) and Email PW. (Some people only have Email on their computer, not their phone. And, either way, just because you haven’t been locked out lately doesn’t mean there isn’t a PW you should keep track of.) Thanks, Jana!