4 Steps to Take if You Receive an Email Claiming Your Information is on the Dark Web

Cybercriminals have various methods to get their hands on your data. Phishing attacks happen when criminals send you an email or text message with a link or attachment to download. Once you click on it, you get to a malicious website that steals your data.

The Dark Web is a faster way to get personal information. Hackers who hack into massive databases sell personal information on the Dark Web, where criminals can buy sensitive information. Tap or click here for three tips to see if your passwords are on the Dark Web.

Some services alert you when your data has been exposed. But read on to see why you can’t always trust email on the Dark Web.

Here is the backstory

Apple and Google have a built-in feature that notifies you if your username, email address, or passwords are discovered on the Dark Web. There is also the excellent I was taken website, which covers over 11 billion stolen records and tells you what breach it is. Tap or click here for the steps to use this tool.

It’s always best to check for yourself if your data is compromised, but some people have told the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that they’ve received emails warning them that their data is on the Dark Web.

That may be true, but the FTC warns that you should treat these emails with skepticism. It could be phishing attacks. The the agency explained that some emails list stolen information, including the victim’s social security number, date of birth, and driver’s license number.

Hackers can use partial information about you to get more details. For example, the email could mention your date of birth. Then, to verify that it is your data, you must click on a link and provide more details. Hackers then capture this information, which could lead to fraud or identity theft.

How to Deal with Dark Web Phishing Emails

Although there is a chance that your data is already on the Dark Web, you should not believe unsolicited emails and provide more information. To help protect against these types of phishing attempts and avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, the FTC has made the following suggestions.

Do not click on a link or use a phone number in the message. It may be a phishing email designed to trick you into disclosing sensitive information to scammers. If you think the message is legitimate — for example, if you have a credit monitoring service or a credit card with a company that monitors the Dark Web — contact the company using a website or phone number that you know it’s real.

Change your passwords to secure your accounts. Start by changing the passwords for your email accounts. Email accounts are often the weakest link in online security, as password resets for other accounts are sent to your email. If your email account password has become known, an identity thief can log into your account and intercept your password reset emails.

Check your credit reports. After securing your accounts, make sure no one has opened new accounts using your information. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free annual credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Until December 2023, you can get a free weekly credit report from their websites. If you find an account or transaction that you don’t recognize, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and obtain a personal recovery plan.

Consider freezing your credit. A credit freeze can be placed and removed for free and is the best way to protect against an identity thief opening new financial accounts in your name. You can also set a Fraud alert on your credit to make it harder for an identity thief to get new credit in your name.

If you receive an email claiming your information is being sold on the Dark Web, report it to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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