Your Social Security Number was exposed on the Dark Web. Here’s what to do.

If your data has been stolen in a data breach, your SSN has likely been posted onto the Dark Web. Read this guide to find out what you can do if this happens.


How to protect your Social Security Number

Protecting your Social Security Number (SSN) is crucial. However, if your data has been stolen in a data breach – which are common these days — your SSN has likely been posted onto the Dark Web. When an SSN is leaked on the dark web, it opens the door to identity theft, financial fraud, and numerous other security threats. This guide aims to provide clear steps on what to do if your SSN is compromised and includes practical advice and prevention techniques to secure your personal information against cyber threats. 

The impact of the SSN exposure

Your Social Security Number is a key to many aspects of your life—financial, medical, and personal. The discovery of your SSN on the Dark Web can be alarming and can open the door to various forms of identity theft and fraud. In recent times, data breaches have become more common, leaking sensitive information like SSNs onto parts of the internet where criminals can easily access and misuse them. For instance, residents in Oakland found their SSNs exposed following a city-wide data breach, underscoring the reality and closeness of this threat. 

With reports indicating that every SSN in the US has likely been compromised at least once, the question isn’t if your SSN can end up on the dark web, but rather what to do when it happens. This guide is dedicated to navigating through the discovery of your SSN on the dark web—identifying breaches, understanding the implications, and taking decisive steps to protect your identity and financial health. 

What to do if your SSN is found on the Dark Web

Discovering that your Social Security Number has been exposed on the dark web is no doubt concerning , but taking decisive, informed action can significantly mitigate potential damage. Sadly, it’s impossible to remove a SSN from the dark web. However, there are things you can do to help protect your identity: 

  1. Prevent future identity theft by making it harder for someone to apply for credit in your name: 
  • Freeze your credit: Immediately contact the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to freeze your credit. This prevents cybercriminals from opening new accounts in your name. 
  • Set up fraud alerts: Place fraud alerts on your credit reports. This requires creditors to take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. 
  1. Review your financial statements to make sure you haven’t already fallen victim to identity theft: 
  • Look at your credit reports: Review your credit reports and look for any unauthorized accounts or inquiries. You’re entitled to free reports annually from each credit bureau, and monitoring services can provide more frequent access. 
  • Check your bank and credit card statements: Scrutinize your financial statements for signs of unauthorized transactions. Immediately report any discrepancies to your bank or credit card issuer. 
  1. Report the incident: If you discover you’re a victim of identity theft, the first step is to report it to the authorities: 
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): File a report with the FTC at This provides you with an official identity theft report and a recovery plan. 
  • Speak to local law enforcement: Consider filing a police report, especially if you have evidence of fraud or identity theft. 
  1. Secure your online presence: Criminals are after all of your assets
  • Passwords: Change passwords for online accounts, especially those associated with financial services, email, and social media. Use strong, unique passwords for each account and consider using a [password manager]( 
  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA on all accounts that offer it, adding an extra layer of security beyond just a password. 
  1. Stay vigilant: People report an increase in scam attempts after their information is exposed in a breach
  • Set up ongoing monitoring: Sign up for credit and identity monitoring services that can alert you to any future threats to your identity or changes in your credit report. 
  • Educate yourself: Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and protective measures. Knowledge is a powerful tool in preventing future identity theft. 
  1. Seek professional help if needed: 
  • For complex cases of identity theft or if you feel overwhelmed by the process, consider seeking assistance from professionals specializing in identity theft recovery. 

How to freeze your social security number?

If you know that your SSN is compromised, consider blocking electronic access to it. You can do this by calling the National 800 number (Toll Free 1-800-772-1213 or at the TTY number at 1-800-325-0778). 

Preventive measures: How to protect your SSN

Protecting your Social Security Number from falling into the wrong hands requires a proactive approach to personal and computer security. Here are some essential things you can do to improve the protection of your sensitive information: 

  1. Be mindful of phishing attempts: Cybercriminals often use phishing emails or messages to trick individuals into revealing their personally identifiable information (PII), passwords, or financial information. Always verify the authenticity of requests for personal information and never click on suspicious links or attachments in emails. 
  1. Limit SSN sharing: Only share your SSN when absolutely necessary, such as for tax reasons, credit applications, or verified employment processes. If a company or individual asks for your SSN, ask why it’s needed and how it will be protected. 
  1. Use secure internet connections: Avoid transmitting personal or financial information over public Wi-Fi networks. Consider using a [Virtual Private Network VPN to encrypt your internet connection, protecting your data from interceptors. 
  1. Educate yourself and your family about cybercrime: Awareness is your first line of defense against identity theft. Learn about the latest cybercrime tactics and share this knowledge with your family, especially with young or elderly members who may be more vulnerable. 
  1. Secure personal documents: Store personal documents, such as your social security card, in a safe place. Shred any unnecessary documents containing sensitive information before disposing of them. 

By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of your SSN and other personal information being compromised. While it’s impossible to eliminate the threat of cybercrime entirely, taking these steps will make it much harder for cybercriminals to access and misuse your data. 

How to know if my social security number is on the Dark Web

Identifying whether your Social Security Number has been exposed on the dark web is the first step to limit potential damage. The dark web’s anonymity makes it a breeding ground for cybercrime, including the buying and selling of stolen personal information. 

How to detect your SSN on the Dark Web: 

  • Use dark web monitoring services: Many cybersecurity companies offer dark web scanning services. These services monitor dark web sites, forums, and marketplaces for your personal information, including your SSN, email address, and more. If your information is found, you’ll receive an alert so you can take immediate action. 
  • Sign up for SSN monitoring: Some services specifically focus on monitoring your SSN across various platforms on the internet, including the dark web. This dedicated monitoring can provide peace of mind by alerting you to any instances where your SSN appears outside of its intended use. 
  • Stay informed about data breaches: Regularly staying updated on major data breaches can help you assess your risk level. If a company or service you use has been compromised, there’s a chance your SSN could be exposed. Many companies offer free identity theft protection services in the wake of a breach. 
  • Check your credit reports: Unexpected changes in your credit report can be a sign that your SSN has been misused. While this is a more indirect method of detecting dark web exposure, it’s an important aspect of monitoring your personal information’s security. 

The importance of prompt detection: 

Early detection of your SSN on the dark web allows you to take swift action to secure your identity and financial accounts before significant damage can occur. From freezing your credit to changing passwords and securing your accounts, the quicker you can respond to a potential exposure, the better you can protect yourself from the fallout of identity theft and cyber fraud. 

Detecting your SSN on the dark web might seem daunting, but leveraging modern cybersecurity tools and services can make this crucial task manageable, providing you with the necessary alerts and insights to safeguard your personal and financial wellbeing. 

Digital footprint scanning with Malwarebytes

In the wake of discovering your SSN on the dark web, taking steps to monitor and secure your digital footprint is crucial. Malwarebytes offers a comprehensive solution for scanning your digital footprint, enabling you to identify where your personal information might be exposed online. 

Why scan your digital footprint? 

  • Early detection: Regular scans of your digital footprint can alert you to new instances of your personal information appearing online, allowing you to respond swiftly before further exposure occurs. 
  • Comprehensive monitoring: Beyond just your SSN, it’s important to monitor other personal information such as your email address, phone number, and financial account details. Malwarebytes scans various sources to provide a broad view of your digital exposure. 
  • Preventive action: Understanding where your information is exposed gives you the opportunity to take preventive measures, such as securing accounts with new passwords and enabling two-factor authentication thereby reducing your vulnerability to cybercrime. 

How to use Malwarebytes for scanning: 

  1. Access the tool: Visit Malwarebytes’ digital footprint scanning page where you’ll be prompted to enter your email to start the scan. 
  1. Review the results: You’ll get a report that details what personal information has been found and where. Pay particular attention to any unexpected or unauthorized appearances of your data. 
  1. Take action: Use the insights gained from the scan to secure your exposed accounts and information. This might involve changing passwords, contacting financial institutions, or even alerting authorities in cases of identity theft. 

Benefits of regular digital footprint scans: 

Doing regular scans of your digital footprint helps maintain a proactive stance on your personal cybersecurity. It not only aids in the early detection of potential breaches but also empowers you with knowledge to better protect your personal information from cyber threats. With tools like Malwarebytes, you can take significant strides in managing your online presence and mitigating the risks associated with digital exposure. 

What happens if someone has my social security number

The exposure of your Social Security Number on the dark web isn’t just a breach of your privacy—it can have far-reaching consequences that affect your financial stability, credit history, and personal life. Knowing the potential impacts can help you grasp the seriousness of the situation and the importance of taking swift, corrective action. 

Consequences of SSN exposure: 

  • Identity theft: The most immediate and concerning impact of SSN exposure is identity theft. Cybercriminals can use your SSN to impersonate you, applying for loans, credit cards, and even government benefits in your name. This fraudulent activity can damage your credit history and take significant time and resources to resolve. 
  • Financial fraud: Beyond credit-related fraud, your exposed SSN can be used to access and drain your existing financial accounts, invest in your name, or redirect your tax refunds and other financial assets. 
  • Legal and tax implications: Unauthorized use of your SSN can have legal ramifications, including false legal identities created in your name or fraudulent tax filings. Victims may find themselves erroneously responsible for criminal activities or tax liabilities incurred by identity thieves. 
  • Personal security risks: The misuse of your SSN can extend beyond financial fraud, affecting your personal security. For example, your information could be used to bypass security checks, allowing criminals to commit crimes under your identity or access your personal accounts and sensitive information. 

Long term, the repercussions of SSN exposure can linger for years. Victims may face ongoing challenges with their credit reports, financial security, and even their employment prospects. Rebuilding your credit score and clearing your name of fraudulent activity requires time, persistence, and often legal assistance. 

Understanding the impact of SSN exposure underscores the importance of protecting this crucial piece of personal information. It also highlights why immediate action and long-term vigilance are essential for minimizing damage and safeguarding your identity against future threats. 

Long-term strategy for the SSN exposure

Securing your Social Security Number and other personal information extends beyond reacting to incidents of exposure. Adopting a comprehensive approach to digital security can significantly lower your risk of identity theft and cybercrime. Here are key preventive measures to consider: 

  1. Enhance you online security practices: 
  • Regularly update software and security systems on all your devices to protect against vulnerabilities. 
  • Use robust antivirus software to defend against malware and other security threats. 
  • Be cautious about sharing personal information online, especially on social media platforms. 
  1. Strengthen your account security: 
  • Use strong, unique passwords for each online account. Consider using a password manager to generate and store them securely. 
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible to add an extra layer of security. 
  1. Safeguard your personal documents: 
  • Store sensitive documents, such as your social security card and financial statements, in a secure location. 
  • Shred documents containing personal information before throwing them out. 
  1. Monitor your financial health: 
  • Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions. 
  • Use credit monitoring services to stay informed about changes to your credit report. 
  1. Educate yourself and your network: 
  • Stay updated on the latest cybersecurity  news, trends and threats
  • Share your knowledge with friends and family, especially those who may be more vulnerable to scams and fraud. 
  1. Use identity protection services: 
  • Consider signing up to an identity theft protection service that monitors personal and financial information and alerts you to potential misuse. 
  1. Be proactive in your digital footprint management: 
  • Periodically review your online presence and adjust the privacy settings on your social media accounts and other platforms to minimize the risk of your personal information being exposed. 
  • Conduct regular digital footprint scans, such as those offered by Malwarebytes, to identify where your information might be exposed or at risk. 

Implementing these measures as part of your daily routine can significantly enhance your digital security posture, making it more challenging for cybercriminals to compromise your personal information. Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing process of vigilance and adaptation to new threats. 

What is phishing?

What is digital footprint?

What is identity theft?

What is a VPN?


What to do if someone has your social security number?

If your Social Security information has been compromised, you can request to block the electronic access. You can do this by calling the National 800 number (Toll Free 1-800-772-1213 or at the TTY number at 1-800-325-0778).