When you think of the words “identity theft,” you probably think of it as something that happens to other people. It would never happen to you — you’re careful about protecting your information and keeping your data private.
But unfortunately, identity theft can happen to anyone at any time. Even if you’re sequestered in a cabin in the woods and don’t even use the internet — you could still be at risk.
Do you pay attention to all the times that you give out your Social Security Number or the Social Security Number of your children? It’s actually insane how freely we distribute this valuable information, especially considering that information like a Social Security Number is one of the top ways that criminals steal other people’s identities, and how valuable a Social Security Number could retail for on the Dark Web.
The dentist office. Visiting the chiropractor. Signing your daughter up for an after-school soccer league. Visiting a new therapist. These are all common situations in which someone might ask you for your Social Security number. Did you know that you are NOT required to give out your Social Security number in these situations? The reason that these offices ask for your information is so that if you skip out on paying a bill, they can track you down. But you know who else can track you down with a Social Security Number? An identity thief.
That’s exactly what I thought until it happened to me. Someone used my information and opened up several credit cards in my name. I was lucky to have noticed the charges early on; however, many are not so fortunate. Ever since then, I’ve been afraid of how easily someone can steal your identity—it’s just as simple as sifting through your mail, overhearing your telephone conversations, or stalking your social media profiles.
It’s easy to miss the signs of identity theft: weird charges on your credit report, calls from debt collectors for debts you didn’t incur, or missing bills or other mail. Before you realize it, there is a sudden drop in your credit score, and you have no idea how to fix it. Recovering from identity theft can be a hassle and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be completely safe from future identity theft.
I Didn’t Want My Data To Fall Into The Wrong Hands
After having my identity stolen, I learned that I have to be more vigilant about making sure that my data hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands. When I learned that Instant Checkmate had recently partnered with Experian to offer customers Dark Web Monitoring, which will monitor the Dark Web for instances of identity theft, I knew that I had to try it out.
I was already a Instant Checkmate member. I regularly used the site’s unlimited searches to see what information is available online about myself and my family. I quickly set up notifications for our Social Security numbers so that I would be alerted in the event that they appeared anywhere on the Dark Web. Instant Checkmate makes it easy to track any instances of identity theft before it becomes a larger problem.
Let’s take a look at how Dark Web Monitoring works and how it can benefit you:
What Is The Dark Web And Why Should I Monitor It?
The Dark Web is the portion of the Internet that can only be accessed through a Tor browser, allowing users to maintain their anonymity online by masking their IP address. It’s often used for illegal activities, such as the sale of Social Security numbers, stolen credit cards, and personal information. For a small cost, users can purchase a complete stranger’s information.
There’s no way to completely keep your data off the Dark Web, but monitoring it will allow you to stay on top of any instances of identity theft, minimizing the impact.
According to Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of US data breaches tracked in 2016 increased by 40%, hitting an all-time record high of 1,093. When your information is stolen by an identity thief, it is likely that it will be sold on the Dark Web, where other criminals or criminal networks can buy your data and use it for fraud. They can create fake identities, open bank accounts in your name, and conduct other malicious activities.
When your data is purchased, the information available does not expire — it can be purchased and sold by criminals for several years after a data breach. Often, after a data breach, criminals will wait before using the information purchased, aware that consumers will be vigilant about monitoring for any signs of fraud.
Data breaches are unlikely to cease anytime soon, so it’s important to monitor your online information so you can take action to prevent financial or personal harm due to identity theft.
What Type Of Information Does Instant Checkmate Monitor?
You are in control of the information that Instant Checkmate searches the Dark Web for. You can choose to enter any of the following into your Dark Web Monitoring account:
Social Security number
Medical identification numbers
Bank account numbers
What Parts Of The Dark Web Does Instant Checkmate Monitor?
After you’ve provided the personal information you’d like to monitor, Instant Checkmate crawls through thousands of websites and millions of data points using a variety of data-gathering techniques to locate instances where your personal information has been compromised. Instant Checkmate monitors many online sources, including:
Peer-to-peer sharing networks
Forums and chat rooms on the publicly accessible Internet and the Dark Web
Social media feeds
Web services, servers, and file transmissions
Instant Checkmate has provided me with a peace of mind, allowing me to know exactly what information about me is made public online. I have an early start on dealing with identity theft — and in today’s day and age, that power is priceless.