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How do monitoring websites that find your information off the 'dark web' work?

Dark web monitoring is the process of searching for and keeping track of personal information found on a portion of the internet not accessible via normal means.

The dark web is a hidden network of websites that requires a special web browser to access. It's hidden from search engines and allows users to mask their IP addresses. The dark web's privacy and anonymity means it serves as a venue for people who want to stay hidden, whether that's for innocuous reasons, or because they're involved in crime—including identity theft.

If someone has managed to steal your Social Security number or other identifying information, they may try to sell it on the dark web to someone who wants to use it to commit fraud. Dark Web monitoring software

can help you keep your identity safe and, in doing so, protect your finances.

How Does Dark Web Monitoring Work?

Dark web monitoring services scan hundreds of thousands of websites each day to look for personal information that criminals can use to steal your identity. That can include the following:

  •     Social Security number
  •     Email address
  •     Passport number
  •     Medical identification numbers
  •     Bank account numbers
  •     Phone numbers
  •     Driver's license
  •     Credit/debit cards
  •     Retail/membership cards

Types of ID Theft That Can Happen on the Dark Web

The dark web gives criminals the gift of anonymity, so it can be difficult to track down who has sold and purchased your information. Depending on the type of information that's listed, thieves can commit all sorts of identity theft and fraud.

For example, if it's your Social Security number, whoever is in possession of it can open fraudulent accounts in your name, file fraudulent tax returns and health insurance claims, and more. If they manage to get a password that was leaked in a data breach, they can use that password to log in to any of the online accounts where you use it.

Finally, if it's your bank account or credit card number that gets leaked and sold, criminals can use that information to drain your checking and savings accounts and make fraudulent purchases.

While it's possible to recover from identity theft, the process can take anywhere between a few days and several years in some cases. It can also be an expensive endeavor, requiring a lot of your time to track down, report and resolve the issues that arise—in some cases, you may need to miss work to stay on top of things.

Identity theft left unaddressed can also have a big impact on your credit score, which will make getting financing expensive or even impossible. If identity theft has affected your credit reports, you might explore filing a dispute with the credit bureaus that maintain them.

One of the best ways to reduce the amount of time and money it requires to rebound from identity theft is to spot it before it happens (or early on in the process) and take steps to stop the thief in their tracks.