Is your Social Security number on the “dark” web? Has your Social Security number been compromised?
If so, it can be extremely easy for someone to ruin your identity, credit, and finances.
The dark web is an area of the internet that is more difficult to access than the rest. Dark web marketplaces are places where people sell illegal goods and information, including stolen accounts and personal details.
Take immediate action if you discover your information is on the dark web by updating your passwords, reporting any fraudulent credit card charges, and securing your accounts.
First, change your passwords
A simple way to prevent someone from using your stolen login information is to change any passwords associated with accounts that are reportedly on the dark web.
Then, set up multi-factor authentication for every account you have that offers it.
The term multi-factor authentication (MFA) refers to an account that requires you to verify your identity using two or more authentication methods. Often, these is your financial accounts.
For instance, you may be required to enter a code sent to your phone when you attempt to access your bank account. When you confirm the code, you are confirming that you know the username and password and that you are in possession of the phone associated with the account.
In the event that your username and password are leaked on the dark web, have multi-factor authentication can help prevent others from accessing your account.
Freeze your credit
It is recommended that you freeze your credit reports with all three major credit bureaus Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax to prevent someone from opening an account in your name.
When your credit reports are frozen, creditors are unable to access them in order to make new lending decisions. It is still possible to access your credit report for other reasons, such as if you wish to check your credit or if your current creditor wishes to review your report.
During the application process for a new credit card or loan, you will need to temporarily “thaw” or unfreeze your credit reports.
You can do this free of charge and as many times as you wish; however, you will need to contact each credit bureau directly.
Report the theft
You may find that your personal information is being sold or shared online, including your:
- Name and address
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license and passport
- Medical records and account numbers
- Financial account numbers and details
- Emails, usernames and passwords
This information can be used by criminals in a number of ways, including impersonating you or creating a false identity with your Social Security number.
It is possible for them to use your information to make a driver’s license or medical insurance card, which they would then use if they were arrested or needed medical assistance.
At IdentityTheft.gov you can report the theft of this information to the Federal Trade Commission. You will then receive a personalized plan describing the next steps you should take.