I got up very early on Groundhog Day so I could be among the first to know Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction for how many weeks of winter are still ahead. As I was waiting for the live coverage to begin, I got an email message that made my heart race. The message was from LifeLock, the identity protection service I’ve used for many years. The subject line was chilling: Dark Web Alert: Identity Information Detected.
I’d never heard of the Dark Web, but it didn’t sound good. Immediately, I logged into my LifeLock account and sure enough—that was not a spam email. The alert was loud and clear, printed in fire-engine red.
Not only had LifeLock detected my email address on the Dark Web—it was paired with my password—my correct and current password.
What on earth?!
The directive from LifeLock was to change my password immediately. Just like closing the barn door after the horse gets out, I followed orders.
My new password seems longer than the two hours people were waiting in 15-degree F weather to witness Punxsutawney Phil coming out of his burrow to see his shadow and run right back in.
My new password has 24 upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols—a seriously strong password. But that does nothing to turn back time.
A quick search for ‘Dark Web’ taught me that there are two webs. There’s the normal Wide World Web most people use every day, which is easily accessible and indexed by search engines. And then there’s the Dark Web—hidden websites that won’t show up when you search Google et al, and can’t be accessed without special software.
The Dark Web is where illegal activities take place—online buying and selling of illicit goods drugs, narcotics, weapons; the unauthorized leak of sensitive information including my personal data. Credit-card and identity theft are all activities that take place on the Dark Web. With this information (including my email address and password which, for a period of time, threw the door wide open to the entirety of my online life) criminals can open accounts, get a driver license; file tax returns, grab your tax refund, take out federal student loans, buy and mortgage property and who knows what else.
I learned from the folks at LifeLock that statistically, I am 11 times more likely to be a victim of identity fraud now that I’ve suffered this breach. Scary? You bet it is. But I am not concerned.
Here’s the deal: We as a society have now come to the place where it is virtually impossible to protect and keep our personal identifying information private. We have to assume that it’s out there. What we can do is make sure no thief, thug or other entity is able to use that information to their advantage. That’s why I, my husband and all of my family members have LifeLock protection service.
I’m confident that if anyone tries to use my identifying information to open an account, take out a loan, apply for a driver license, register a car, check into a hospital to name only a few, using my name and insurance number—I’m going to get an alert! I’ll know as fast as I knew I’d been exposed on the Dark Web. And BAM! LifeLock, with my directive, will stop it in its tracks.
Realistically, I know that no company or individual can prevent all identity theft or monitor all transactions. Nothing in life is that certain. But I rest assured that LifeLock ID protection includes so many layers of protection, if something gets through, the company will immediately move into action to fix it. And we are fully covered for personal expense compensation, reimbursement of any stolen funds and coverage for lawyers and experts to restore my good name and reverse any and all damage done.
The cost for LifeLock ID Protection ranges from $10 to $30 a month, depending on the level of protection. If you’re interested in learning more, use THIS LINK to get a 30-day free trial and 10% discount should you decide to sign up.