Is Your Social Security Number for Sale on the Dark Web? What To Do if Your Personal Information Is Compromised

It can be unsettling to discover your Social Security number is for sale on the dark web, but knowing what to do if this happens can limit your damage.
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The dark web is the third and deepest internet web layer, and it isn’t accessible by regular search engines. It consists of overlay networks where users remain anonymous, all activity is untraceable, and access is only available through advanced software or specialized browsers such as the Tor browser.

The secrecy provided by multiple layers of encryption makes the dark web a favored forum for illicit commerce for fraudsters to sell personal information, including Social Security numbers (SSNs), complete personal profiles, and medical records.

SSNs can be golden tickets for cybercriminals, and yours can end up on the dark web in several ways. Hackers can install malware on a device to steal your personal information directly, or a company you trust can experience a data breach where your SSN is exposed, stolen, and listed for sale on the dark web.

Sounds scary, right? It certainly can be, but here's the good news. There are safe and effective ways to determine whether your SSN exists on the dark web, as well as steps you can take to mitigate the possible damage.

In this article
Signs that your SSN is on the dark web
How to find out if your SSN is for sale
Do I need to access the dark web to find out if my SSN is there?
What to do if your SSN is on the dark web
How to prevent identity theft
Bottom line

Signs that your SSN is on the dark web

What warning signs would indicate that your SSN may have reached the underworld market on the dark web? Below are some indicators that your SSN may have been compromised and could be available for use in fraudulent activity:

  • Receiving a noticeable increase in scam calls and phishing emails
  • Receiving a letter from an organization explaining they experienced a breach where your personal information, including your SSN, was possibly exposed
  • Receiving mail from unfamiliar companies or financial institutions regarding products you didn't purchase, loans you didn't request, or accounts you didn't open
  • Noticing unrecognized activity on your credit reports
  • Receiving notification of tax return fraud
  • Discovering the activation of a medical insurance policy

How to find out if your SSN is for sale

Let's say you receive a breach warning letter from a company you entrusted with your personal information, or you've noticed a significant increase in spam calls and emails. How do you determine whether your SSN is for sale on the dark web?

You can start by listing and reviewing all open accounts that may have your SSN on file. Next, conduct a search for recent known breaches that could impact these current accounts.

Remember, email access can become a gateway for fraudsters who can log in to your email and use that account as a bridge to other locations where your SSN is on file.

You might consider engaging a company or credit monitoring service, such as Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion, to use a dark web scanning tool to search through databases of stolen information on the dark web for your SSN. Also, scanning tools used by password managers or third-party virtual private networks (VPN) can use your email to search for any personal data associated with that address on the dark web.

Finally, you can set up dark web fraud alerts with third parties such as Experian, which can continually run scans for leaked personal data and will send you a notification if any of your information appears on the dark web.

Do I need to access the dark web to find out if my SSN is there?

Even though the dark web has an unsavory reputation due to illicit activity, it does provide value for legal uses like promoting free speech and is legal for anyone to access.

However, you needn’t sink into the depths of the dark web in search of your SSN. There are safer ways to determine whether your SSN landed on the dark web and if it is available to criminals shopping the cyber black market.

Running multiple scans with different dark web scanning tools to search for your SSN and email address across databases of stolen data is one of the most practical and effective approaches for scouring the dark web for your personal information.

What to do if your SSN is on the dark web

It's certainly unsettling to discover your Social Security has fallen into the wrong hands and is now available to any cybercriminal for a nominal fee.

Once a criminal has your SSN, they can open bank accounts, apply for loans and credit cards, obtain a driver's license or ID card, and activate insurance policies using your name. Also, keep in mind that there isn't a way to remove your SSN or any other personal information from the dark web once it exists there.

However, all isn't lost should you discover your SSN surfaced on the dark web. Below are some actions you can take to mitigate the potential damage resulting from your SSN existing on the dark web:

  • Immediately freeze your credit and SSN to block fraudulent activity.
  • Create a mySocialSecurity account with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to claim your number, review your earnings, and make sure there aren't any fraudulent attempts to apply for Social Security benefits in your name.
  • Report any fraudulent activity connected to your SSN to the SSA immediately.
  • Obtain a free credit report at from each of the credit bureaus and check for any unrecognized accounts or charges in your name.
  • Continually monitor all credit accounts and bank accounts for unauthorized activity and set up alert functions on all open accounts.
  • Consider employing an identity theft protection service for future peace of mind.

How to prevent identity theft

Today, identity theft is a booming business, with the dark web and cryptocurrency providing cybercriminals the forum and means of payment needed to operate in the shadows.

With so many channels and cyberattack surfaces available to criminals today, safeguarding your personal information and avoiding identity theft can seem like a mission impossible, but options do exist. Below is a list of cybersecurity action steps that can help prevent you from becoming the next identity theft statistic:

  • Employ safe internet best practices, including two-factor authentication, robust antivirus software, VPNs for safer browsing, and the use of password managers.
  • Stay informed on all current data breaches and act quickly to change passwords or freeze potentially affected accounts.
  • Diligently monitor your credit reports and bank statements to detect any unauthorized activity and be prepared for a prompt credit freeze if necessary.
  • Install fraud warning notifications on all open accounts.
  • Use a secure mailbox and collect mail frequently.
  • Shred all documents and clean all devices containing personal information before disposal.
  • Use strong and different passwords for all accounts.
  • Opt out of receiving prescreened credit offers at
  • Only share personal information with proven and trusted sources via phone, mail, or the internet.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission for additional resources on preventing and recovering from identity theft.



How do you check if your SSN was compromised?

If your SSN was compromised, you can start with a check of all accounts holding your SSN or email address for recent breaches where your sensitive information may have been exposed and leaked to outside threat actors.

Next, you can contact a third-party company or credit service such as Experian to run a search of dark web databases for your SSN or email with specialized web scanning tools.

You might also consider engaging multiple sources using different tools to cover all angles and prevent any evidence from falling through the cracks.


How much is an SSN worth on the dark web?

SSNs don't sell for much compared with other more lucrative documents such as medical records, which often retail for $2,000 per file.

The standard going rate for an SSN is $3 to $4, and that price can escalate to around $8 for a full personal profile or "fullz," which includes more detailed information.


What happens if your SSN is on the dark web?

If your SSN ends up on the dark web, you can become a prime candidate for attempted identity theft and fraud. Scammers can purchase your SSN on the dark web and use it to open new accounts and credit cards, apply for loans, activate medical insurance, or claim benefits in your name.

Possession of your SSN allows a criminal to steal your identity and attempt to commit fraud by acting as if they were you to open accounts, borrow money, or make purchases.


Can you remove your SSN from the dark web?

Unfortunately, there's no way to remove your SSN from the dark web once it lands there. However, there are numerous ways to prevent it from reaching the dark web and to reduce the damage should it fall into criminal hands.

Bottom line

Your identity — including all the most sensitive personal information, such as your Social Security number — is under the constant threat of compromise. During the third quarter of 2022, internet users worldwide experienced 15 million data breaches, any of which could have resulted in stolen information, identity theft, and fraud.

Today, anyone can become the victim of a data breach, but there are ways we can all work toward prevention and mitigation of the damage should one occur close to home. Learning how to protect your personally identifiable information and the proper actions to take should it be compromised will go a long way in keeping your SSN from becoming another dark web statistic.

Author Details
Mark Knowles is a freelance content marketing writer specializing in articles, e-books, and whitepapers on cybersecurity, automation, and artificial intelligence. Mark has experience creating fresh content, engaging audiences, and establishing thought leadership for many top tech companies.