By Melissa Haley—You know they’re required for almost everything online these days, but are they really necessary? Of course, I’m talking about passwords. Your bank requires them, your email account requires them, and even some everyday programs require them. It’s so hard to remember them all, so you write them down and keep them handy. But should you?

The next time you log in and your password magically appears due to the convenience of your computer’s memory, stop and think about what would happen if someone else was able to log in as you. Would your bank accounts be compromised? What would be the overall loss because of unauthorized access? Most likely, you would be devastated.

Password requirements were created to keep your personal data, well, personal. Experts recommend changing your password regularly, using combinations of letters, characters and numbers. They also suggest not using common words, birthdays, anniversaries, pet’s names or the like. Common sense should be used and caution should be exercised when choosing a password.

It is never recommended to keep your password written near your computer. Much like you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) keep your PIN for your bank card written on your card, carry your Social Security card in your wallet, or keep the title to your vehicle in the car, your passwords should be kept in a safe location away from danger of misuse.

Added by the editor: For websites where my security isn’t of great concern, such as forums, article sites and such, I keep usernames and passwords in a little address book. Usernames and passwords that involve money such as bank accounts, paypal and any that have my credit card on file are kept separately on an index card in a safe place. My adult children also have that information. Security is important. Imagine if your computer was stolen: Besides passwords, you also have to make sure no one would have access to files of your financial records (tax returns, bank statements, etc.) or confidential information about borrowers on loan documents you’ve received.