April 16, 2019
A lot of credit monitoring services now advertise that they offer "dark web monitoring." Sounds impressive, but just what does that mean?
A lot of people don't really know, according to a recent survey by the Consumer Federation of America. Many said they believe that if their personal information is found on the dark web, the monitoring service can remove it or prevent criminals from using it. In fact, they can't do either.
"The reality with dark web monitoring is, it can alert you when your stolen personal information is being offered for sale on the Internet, but there's a big difference between alerted to something and being able to actually do something about it," said Adam Levin, founder of CyberScout and author of the book, Swiped.
Levin said no one can erase the data that winds up in this underground cyber-marketplace or prevent it from being sold, exchanged or used.
Something else you should know: Most of the stolen information on the dark web is behind paywalls, that prevents monitoring services from finding it.
Critics say dark web monitoring is mostly marketing hype, but the companies that offer it insist it's a valuable service because it tells people the specific types of personal information that's circulating in the criminal marketplace — and how to respond to that.
Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at the Consumer Federation of America, wants every to understand: "Dark web monitoring may be able to alert consumers that their stolen personal information is being offered for sale on the internet, but it can't put the genie back in the bottle."
Keep in mind: With so much of your personal information already compromised, you need to be vigilant – always looking for signs of fraud, even if you use a monitoring service.