Congratulations! You're worth a bit more this year than you were last year – at least in the eyes of identity thieves.
The website Top10VPN recently released their 2019 Dark Web Market Price Index, a summary of current market prices for individual pieces of stolen identities.
Last year, Top10VPN estimated that an identity thief could buy your entire identity – everything from proof-of-identity documents to credit/banking information to shopping and social media logins – for around $1,170. In 2019, identity thieves will have to pay approximately 3.8% more (around $1,215) for your entire credit profile. Congratulations again! You whipped inflation, which hasn't topped 3% since 2011.
Of course, fraudsters probably won't pay for your information a la carte. Free market principles and volume discounts are likely to apply.
"There are so many retail stores on the dark web," says John Buzzard, an industry fraud specialist for CO-OP Financial Services. "Most of the information out there is monetized and broken up, consolidated and put together on various pieces and packages, and sold fraudster to fraudster." As strange as it sounds, prices for stolen identities are probably being tempered by competition among thieves and a plentiful supply of hacked information.
While the overall value of your information climbed slightly, the value of certain pieces has changed dramatically.
In 2018, PayPal logins topped the list with an average $247 value. For 2019, their average value plummeted all the way to $42.38. The 2018 value contained a large number of high-value PayPal accounts (above $10,000) that skewed the average account value. Meanwhile, eBay has begun to move away from PayPal as their primary payment processor – resulting in fewer high-dollar accounts and less convenience in taking advantage of them.
Banking details and debit card details are the new high-value purchases. Average online banking information values climbed from $160.15 in 2018 to $259.56 this year. Meanwhile, debit cards have taken a huge leap in value – from $67.50 in 2018 to $250.05 in 2019.
Prices for credit card information are surprisingly low. The $50 average from 2018 fell to $33.88 in 2019. Proof of identity documents fell from $29.59 in 2018 to $16.52 in 2019 – perhaps because free credit freezes have made it tougher for criminals to open fake accounts.
Identity thieves looking for a trendy purchase can acquire Fortnite information for an average $11.33, while bargain-conscious criminals can get Craigslist information for $4.66, Skype for $1.25, Twitter for $2.02 – and AOL for a paltry 41 cents.
Steven Millstein, a credit repair consultant at CreditRepairExpert.org, sums it up nicely: "It's a lot like the Wild West out there when it comes to identity theft." Your best defense against the sale of your compromised information is to make your information less likely to reach the dark web in the first place.
You can't stop identity theft through data breaches, but you can limit the odds by storing your information in as few sites as possible. Take other common-sense precautions as well. Use strong passwords that are changed frequently, shred all personal information before disposal, use only secure Internet connections to trusted sources, and beware of phishing scams.
Check all active accounts regularly for any signs of fraud. Ask your bank and credit card issuers what alerts are available to detect unusual account activity. Consider a credit monitoring service to limit any damage. Let MoneyTips protect your credit and your identity with a free trial.
Finally, apply a credit freeze as a final layer of protection. Fraudsters can't open fake accounts in your name when creditors can't access your file. Give criminals the least value possible for their purchase.
Protect your credit – protect your identity – protect yourself with a free MoneyTips trial.