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Identity criminals and hackers join together in online marketplaces to trade stolen data, hacking tools, and personal information. 2017 was hallmarked with corporate hacks, including a major data breach at Equifax. As more commerce and communication moves online, the risk to the public is growing with each passing moment. However, there may be a new tool to combat online fraud that is available online from Experian, the major competitor to Equifax in the global market for credit reporting.
What is Experian?
Experian is one of the world’s largest credit reporting agencies. The company offers a full suite of credit scoring and reporting tools for banks, businesses, and consumers alike. Aggregating data through a wide collection network, Experian tracks the spending and borrowing of more than 1 billion consumers and tens of millions of businesses worldwide. In the U.S. alone, the credit agency collects information from over 235 million Americans and 25 million companies.
What is the Experian Dark Web Scan?
In an effort to help people take control of their leaked data online, Experian now offers a tool for concerned consumers wondering if their personal information is lurking somewhere in the dark corners of the web. Using an email address and other personal information, the Dark Web Scan tool cross-references multiple databases to find any incidents of personal information breaches. All sorts of different personal information can find its way online, so the scanning tool uses a wide variety of identification, banking information, card numbers, and tax information.
Experian describes its dark web monitoring service as “an identity theft prevention product that enables you to monitor your identity information on the dark web.” The cyber monitoring program checks online for any data breaches that include consumer information. The company hopes to keep its customers safe from “the underbelly of the internet.” Online dark web markets use a variety of masking tools to keep criminal identities safe as they trade the identities of their fraud victims.
At first, the Experian Dark Web Scan is free to use. Users simply enter an email address to receive an email link to a “secure online report” from the Experian servers. The scan report opens in a browser window to review any results from the Dark Web database. The user will see how many records appeared, when they appeared, and some information about the data. To protect confidentiality, Experian hides some results from view. A typical report includes any email addresses, passwords, site information, and dates associated with that record from the Dark Web information database.
How Much Does the Experian Dark Web Scan Cost?
The free report based on an email address is only the first step of the Dark Web Scan. Experian offers an expanded scan for a free 30-day trial and a regular ongoing monthly payment of $10 afterward. The paid subscription includes monitoring, alerts, customer support, and up to $1 million in insurance if your identity is stolen. It only takes 48 hours to begin monitoring with Experian.
How Does the Service Work?
Each user chooses how much information to upload into the scanning tool. It’s up to them whether to use an email address, SSN, passport, or whatever they decide. Experian will send notifications for each identity fraud alert.
According to the Experian website, the Dark Web Scan service monitors a wide selection of sources to find stolen consumer data. Experian relies on web pages, forums, blogs, chat rooms, and social media to provide valuable information about potential breaches. Security experts also search through malware samples, online databases, peer-to-peer networks, and other sources. It wouldn’t be much of a “Dark Web Scan” without looking at public internet sites as well as Dark Web addresses and sites. There is a vast sea of inaccessible online markets for illegal data, hidden from regular web browsing.
How Does This Service Protect Your Personal Finances and Stop Online Identity Theft?
Experian offers its monitoring service to help people take control of their online identity. Fraud costs the public billions of dollars every year in America and other countries around the globe. Alerts from Experian can help a potential victim of fraud protect themselves and avoid any problems. A stolen identity is a big inconvenience even in the mildest of cases. Many victims can lose their savings, businesses, personal conversations, and good credit scores to online fraud.
The Experian Dark Web Scan will notify each user about any problems with their online identity. Searches include financial account takeovers, court records, loans, SSN traces, and a variety of other events. Sometimes a crime can be averted by simply changing your password in time. With the Experian Dark Web Scan, consumers have a fighting chance against potential identity fraudsters and other online criminals.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Experian isn’t the only game in town when it comes to online fraud monitoring. LifeLock is a popular online fraud monitoring service that also features Dark Web services and a few other things beyond the Experian Dark Web Scan tool. Another alternative is IdentityForce, a company that offers similar services for both consumers and businesses.
Companies have a lot to lose when it comes to data breaches, too. There are many IT security monitoring services featuring Dark Web monitoring for commercial assets. Terbium Lab’s Matchlight and SurfWatch Lab’s Cyber Advisor both include Dark Web monitoring in their business protection packages.
Author: Jeff Gitlen, CEPF®