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Graphic showing an open laptop computer with images of credit cards, drivers' licenses, and other personal data that might be available for sale on the dark web.

People are telling us they’ve gotten emails warning that their sensitive personal information is being sold in the shadowy marketplaces of the dark web. Some emails list the stolen information, like all or part of the person’s Social Security number, date of birth, and driver’s license number. If you’ve gotten one of these emails, take steps to help protect yourself against financial loss from identity theft.

Don’t click a link or use a phone number in the message. It could be a “phishing” email, designed to trick you into disclosing sensitive information to scammers. If you think the message is legit — 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 is real.

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

  • Pro tip: When setting up new passwords, consider using a password manager. Free ones are built into most browsers and will automatically create passwords that are hard to guess. Be sure to use different passwords for each account and, if the account offers multifactor authentication, use it for added security.

Check your credit reports. After securing your accounts, make sure nobody has opened new accounts using your information. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get an annual free credit report from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Through December 2023, you can get a free credit report every week from each of them at the website. If you find an account or transaction you don’t recognize, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the identity theft and get a personal recovery plan.

Consider freezing your credit. A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, is free to place and remove and is the best way to protect against an identity thief opening new accounts in your name. Alternatively, place a free fraud alert on your credit to make it more difficult for an identity thief to get new credit in your name.

Visit IdentityTheft.gov/databreach for more steps to take, depending on what information was exposed. And, if you get one of these emails, please tell us at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

23 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Bobbi
September 28, 2022

I get a new scam everyday and I’m so sick of these invasions usually in the form of gifts if I just provide my info or a credit card

Rosalie Vaneck
September 26, 2022

Dear FTC, Thank you for this timely information. It is appreciated. Thank you.

Phyllis Yaffie
September 28, 2022

I just received a text saying to expect a federal express package tomorrow with options to cancel or stop or see more. I think it’s a scam so I’m just deleting it. That happened once before too.

Sue Kern
September 28, 2022

Since I am not computer savvy, I would like information as to how to send a phishing e-mail directly to you without opening it in any way. Thank you.

Steve Wohl
September 26, 2022

Thanks for the heads up and tips to follow up on.

Consumer 101
September 28, 2022

I certainly appreciate your suggestions is regards to identify theft in this article!
In regards to a credit FREEZE on my accounts to the 3 credit reporting agencies. I’ve done that, yet at age 70 years old, I MUST supply passcodes and $15.00 per agency to temporarily unblock my freeze from these three accounts so that I may even apply for a different credit card. Quite costly for a senior citizen. Something is wrong with this!
Grateful for your effort on our behalf, consumer 101

Alley
October 04, 2022

In reply to by Consumer 101

In case you see this, my research - and experience - show you do NOT need to pay to freeze and unfreeze your credit. I'm not sure about passcodes - if you meant to your accounts probably - but that's a different issue.

DDR
October 14, 2022

In reply to by Consumer 101

From this same website I have found that they have changed the rules for charging for freezing and unfreezing your credit. It might be helpful if you can place a phone call to one of the three credit agencies and speak with them about this. If you have a copy of your past report it should have a phone number included with the report. The good news is you won’t have to pay any one of them before you can apply for additional credit once you have the freeze lifted. I certainly hope that you’ll see this information.

Gregory
October 21, 2022

In reply to by Consumer 101

There is No charge for a credit Freeze, or should I say, there isn't in Georgia. I lock and unlock at will, with No charge.
There Is a charge for a Credit Block.

Kevin
September 28, 2022

I subscribe to your alerts email. It would be good if the links in that email pointed directly at FTC.gov rather than 'lnks.gd'. Otherwise, how can I determine that your email is not fake and also a phishing email?

Barry S
September 26, 2022

Great information!

Thank you.

Joann
September 27, 2022

I had a new Samsung in 2019. It kept pushing me to have a Google account. I didn’t want to but phone wasn’t working properly. I’m not as computer savvy as I used to be. They hacked my Gmail and Google account. That got them into everything. All my information is compromised but they didn’t get my money or my medical. Because of lousy credit it cost me a small fortune to change everything. Went to a different phone and email. I won’t let Google anywhere near it. I have a monitoring service and I can’t have any social media. Not that I really miss it. I called all agencies such as DMV, Social Security, etc. and the FBI identity theft. I also filed a police report. Here it is 2022 and they are still after me. I got smart and don’t ever let my guard down. So far they don’t have my identity but they have all the information to do it.

No name
September 27, 2022

Just got a fake email saying to click on regions , my id was being used. It looks real.

Sandra S.
September 28, 2022

I am receiving a TON of these (info on the dark web) and much more, i.e. invoices for Bit Coin from Pay Pal and invoices from Amazon of which I DO NOT HAVE ACCOUNTS! This is crazy! I am changing passwords and working with my cable provider. I receive close to 50 emails per day and delete all! This has got to stop as the ID theft heathens ARE getting through layers of protection and security!

Whitney
November 18, 2022

In reply to by Sandra S.

I need help too! Going through the same thing! Even getting letters to my home but addresses to another person about appearing in court and foreclosing on home! Maxed out all credit card, emails emails and more emails. Says my emails are in dark web 33 plus times. What do I do?

Jerold
September 27, 2022

Thanks for the Info. it is good to know what is going on !!!!!!!

patricia singh
September 27, 2022

I recently got an email stating a password is on the dark web. Thanks for the timely information.

Dayanidhi Gajurel
September 27, 2022

Good,I am satisfied and interested.

Margy L
September 27, 2022

Thank you FTC for always having my back! You guys/gals are the BEST!

Brian
September 28, 2022

Excellent, timely information...thank you!

Tina Garrett
September 30, 2022

I received a message about an unknown account in my name on the dark web from one of the credit bureaus.

Trishcelia J Banks
November 18, 2022

I've been a victim of identity theft by my Brother since 2019 or earlier and he has used it for every way possible for his wellbeing which is still ongoing And I want To Proceed with Prosecution.

Suzie
November 18, 2022

My I pad had an alert to call a number,that I had a virus on it they said. It was a scam they told me someone had taken it out of my account and I had to buy gift cards to get it back. Fortunately it didn’t work. So beware.