Have you ever wondered what to do if your identity is stolen and sold on the dark web? Many people face this scary situation every day, and they don’t know how to deal with it. That includes Mary of Upper Chichester, Pennsylvania.
“I have a major issue with my Motorola Android cell phone. Motorola’s tech department wasn’t helpful at all.
“I was alerted by Capital One that my identity was being sold on the dark web. I did contact all of the credit reporting agencies to notify them and place alerts on my credit report. That’s about all I have done so far. My issue is how do I remove my personal information from the dark web and is my phone now useless?
“Do I need to get a new phone or is there any easy way to secure my current phone?
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“I’m worried about someone using my personal information to commit criminal acts using my identity. Please tell me the easiest way to rectify this scary situation. What should I do next?”
Mary, Upper Chichester, PA
Mary, I’m sorry to hear that your identity was being sold on the dark web. I’m glad you contacted the credit reporting agencies to alert them and place alerts on your credit report. That’s one of several smart moves to protect your credit from fraud. As for removing your personal information from the dark web, fortunately, there are several ways to approach this, which we’ll get into below.
What do I do if my data has been stolen?
Log out of all of your accounts: If you see that your information was part of any sort of breach, you should first log out of all your accounts on every web browser on your computer. Once you’ve done that, you should clear your cookies and cache.
Change your password: If your password was compromised, be sure to change it immediately. Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords.
MY TIPS AND BEST EXPERT-REVIEWED PASSWORD MANAGERS OF 2023 CAN BE FOUND HERE
Remove yourself from the internet: While no service promises to remove all your data from the internet, having a removal service is great if you want to constantly monitor and automate the process of removing your information from hundreds of sites continuously. By doing so, it would significantly decrease the chances of a scammer being able to get you information to target you.
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Invest in Antivirus protection: The best way to protect yourself from accidentally clicking a malicious link that would allow hackers access to your personal information is to have antivirus protection installed and actively running on all your devices.
See my expert review of the best antivirus protection for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.
Do you need a new phone if your personal info is on the dark web?
As for your Android phone, you should be sure to do a malware scan and implement necessary security measures to prevent hackers from accessing it again. Here are some steps you can take to secure your Android phone from hackers:
Do a malware scan of your Android device. You should scan your phone with reputable antivirus protection, and remove any suspicious apps or files.
- Phishing and malware are common tactics that hackers use to trick you into clicking on malicious links or attachments that can infect your Android phone with spyware or ransomware.
- You should be careful about opening emails, texts, or messages from unknown senders or sources that look suspicious or too good to be true.
- Avoid downloading apps from unofficial sources or websites that may contain malware.
Update your software: Make sure you have the latest version of Android and any apps you use on your phone. Software updates often fix security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. You can check for updates in your phone’s settings or in the Google Play Store. Learn how to update your Android or iPhone.
Use a strong password or PIN: Lock your phone with a password or PIN that is hard to guess or crack. You can also use biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or face recognition, if your phone supports it. You should also change your passwords and log out of any accounts that may have been compromised.
Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring you to enter a code or use an app to verify your identity when you log in. You can enable 2FA on services that offer it, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You should also use a different device to receive the codes or use an authentication app like the ones described here.
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Kurt’s key takeaways
Mary’s story sheds light on the reality many face grappling with the nightmare of identity theft and the dark web. Quick action is key, like notifying credit agencies if you discover your info is being used or has been stolen.
Remember, once on the dark web, your personal info isn’t easily erased, but you can take these steps to start removing it all. So, when it comes to your phone, securing it with updates, antivirus software, strong passwords, and cautious behavior can and will help thwart potential hackers.
Safeguarding your identity is a constant battle. However, it’s just a reality of where we are today. So, staying proactive is your best armor.
What frustrates you most about having to always be on guard when it comes to your tech and security? Do you wish our government did more to find those responsible for perpetuating the dark web and its crimes? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.
For more of my tech tips & security alerts, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by heading to Cyberguy.com/Newsletter.
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