With all of the major hacks going on lately including the huge one from Equifax, you have to wonder how hackers actually use stolen social security numbers. This information is very valuable to them when they want to drain bank accounts and commit fraud, so much so that they actually buy it. Imagine how happy they were went Equifax gave it to them for free…
How hackers use stolen Social Security numbers
The tracking of stolen social security numbers, and other personal identifiable information, is commonly sold on the so-called dark web. It is an online black marketplace that is full of information such as this, as well as drugs and already stolen identities. Examples include:
And those are just the three most recent to be closed down. While law enforcement is closing down these black marketplaces, they have not closed down all of them. Not anywhere near.
Are more stolen security numbers turning up?
What I have seen amongst commentary from the online security community, and from looking, is that there has not been a significant increase in stolen Social Security numbers circulating on the dark web since the Equifax breach. Just the normal amount of stolen information. Which is already too much…
What they use stolen social security numbers for
The most common uses for stolen Social Security numbers include:
- Mortgage fraud: Hackers will take out false mortgages using the personal identifiable information of other people.
- Tax fraud: This involves filing tax claims under your name.
- Credit card fraud: Hackers can either use your already active credit cards, or open up new accounts to commit credit fraud.
- Bank accounts: Once a hacker has your personal identifiable information, especially your Social Security number, they can open up bank accounts in your name.
And the Equifax breach isn’t the only thing responsible for this. Hackers can find some of this information right on your Facebook account. Your exact date of birth is a valuable piece of information towards compiling your personal identifiable information.
Protect yourself from stolen Social Security numbers
You are going to have to start paying attention to the information that you share online. You are also going to have to use tools. Let’s look at what you need to do:
- Monitor your credit score. A hacker committing some sort of fraud against you will be reflected quickly in your credit score. You can even sign up for services that monitor for fraudulent activity.
- Closely monitor your credit cards and bank accounts. Fraudulent charges on either should be immediately reported.
- When doing any sort of financial activity, especially on public Wi-Fi, make sure to encrypt through a trusted VPN provider. No hacker has the time to crack high grade encryption. They will simply move along to a more vulnerable target, therefore protecting you.
- Stop reusing passwords. Use a password management app that will protect you by creating multiple passwords for all of your different accounts. That way if a hacker does get one password it will not open you up to fraud across all of your accounts.
At the end of the day, a major security breach like the one from Equifax is beyond your control. They had a problem, they didn’t fix it, and they exposed you. You need to set yourself up with a monitoring service that will help protect you, and you need to stay vigilant with your own activities online. Equifax also has a tool for checking on their website: