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What Happens if Your Phone Number is On the Dark Web?

Written by Allison Martin

Allison Martin is a personal finance enthusiast and a passionate entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience, Allison has made a name for herself as a syndicated financial writer. Her articles are published in leading publications, like, Bankrate, The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, and Investopedia. When she’s not busy creating content, Allison travels nationwide, sharing her knowledge and expertise in financial literacy and entrepreneurship through interactive workshops and programs. She also works as a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) dedicated to helping people from all walks of life achieve financial freedom and success.

Updated June 26, 2024​

4 min. read​

phone number found on dark web

The dark web is a hub for cyberthieves. So, if your phone number is found there, you want to take action sooner than later to protect yourself. Otherwise, you could be at risk of having your identity stolen, which could put your assets at risk.

Here’s what you need to know about the dark web and what to do if your phone number is floating in this unpleasant territory of cyberspace.

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What is the Dark Web?

In short, the dark web is a hidden network with non-standard URLs requiring special software access. Unlike legitimate websites, it’s not indexed, which makes it a hotspot for cyber thieves as they can carry out criminal activity anonymously.

Understanding the Implications of Personal Information on the Dark Web

What Does It Mean If You Are Found on the Dark Web?

If your personal information is found on the dark web, it’s been breached and is now accessible to cybercriminals. These thieves can proceed to open up accounts in your name or use your current accounts to do damage, especially if they have access to pertinent information like your Social Security number, email address and date of birth.

What Happens If Your Phone Number Found on the Dark Web?

A phone number on the dark web is music to a cyber thief’s ears. They can use it to engage in SIM swapping, which involves intercepting two-factor authentication codes to breach your accounts.

Spoofing is another risk, as it makes it appear like you’re contacting someone by phone or text when it’s really the cyberthief.

Should You Be Worried If Your Information Is On the Dark Web?

Yes, you should be concerned about if your information is on the dark web. However, you should not panic as you can take steps to secure your personal data.

How Phone Numbers Can End Up on the Dark Web

Data Breaches and Hacks

Many companies and organizations store vast amounts of sensitive information in databases. Data breaches occur when hackers gain unauthorized access to these databases, and personal information, including Social Security numbers, phone numbers and emails, is often shared or sold on the dark web.

A major data breach can expose millions of records and put consumers at risk for identity theft. This means your phone number, along with other sensitive information, can be used to steal your identity and access your online accounts.

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Phishing Scams and Social Engineering

Phishing scams trick you into providing personal information to a fraudster pretending to be a legitimate organization. These scams are often perpetrated through emails, phone calls and text messages.

Social engineering exploits human behavior to gather information. For example, a fraudster could go dumpster diving or look over your shoulder when using your devices to gather personal data.

Publicly Available Information and Web Scraping

Public information is another way your phone number could land on the dark web. If it’s available through public records or an online directory on your social media profile(s), it could be collected via web scraping and published on the dark web.

Risks Associated with Phone Numbers on the Dark Web

Identity Theft

As previously mentioned, cybercriminals can steal your phone number from the dark web and use it to hijack your identity. They may then link your phone number with other data, like your email address, to access your online accounts or reset your passwords.

It’s also worth mentioning that identity theft can wreak havoc on your credit profile. If a fraudster applies for loans or credit cards in your name, your credit rating will plummet when they fail to repay what’s owed.

Spam and Scam Calls

Expect an influx of spam and scam calls if your phone number is on the dark web. Be sure to use a reliable spam blocker app to stop scammers in their tracks. And if these calls are able to come through, refrain from answering the phone and providing personal information.

Social Engineering Attacks

These attacks are also intended to convince you to provide personal information and can use the phone number phone on the dark web as a starting point. The thief may ask you for sensitive bank account details, credit card numbers or login credentials.

Don’t fall for this scheme, though. Instead, contact the organization or financial institution directly at a verified phone number to confirm the request is legitimate.

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Financial Fraud and Unauthorized Transactions

With access to your phone number, criminals can commit financial fraud. They may intercept two-factor authentication (2FA) codes sent via SMS to gain access to your online accounts. Once inside, they can make unauthorized transactions or steal funds.

To protect yourself, consider using authentication methods other than SMS-based 2FA, such as app-based or hardware tokens. Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for unauthorized transactions. Report any suspicious activity immediately to your financial institution to help minimize damage.

Steps to Take if Your Phone Number is Found on the Dark Web

If your phone number is found on the dark web, act immediately to shield your personal data and limit added damage.

Confirming the Exposure

Start by verifying if your information is on the dark web. Consider using the Experian IdentityWorks service, where consumers can get protection from identity theft, including daily dark web scans and alerts.

Visit the website to learn more about this product, Experian and its other offerings. You can also sign up for a free account or view your credit score for free.

Monitoring for Suspicious Activity

It’s vital to stay vigilant after confirming that your phone number is on the dark web. Monitor your financial, email and social media accounts for unusual activity. Also, set up transaction alerts with your bank and report any suspicious activity promptly.

Contacting Your Mobile Carrier and Changing Your Phone Number

Reach out to your mobile carrier, notify them of the breach and request a new phone number. Doing so can help you ward off future attacks by cybercriminals.

Mitigation and Prevention Strategies

Using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication provides an added layer of protection to your accounts. In case you aren’t familiar with it, you are required to enter a second form of identification, like a unique code, when logging in with your password. Doing so makes it much harder for unauthorized users to access your accounts.

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Being Vigilant About Phishing Attempts

As aforementioned, fraudsters make phishing attempts to access passwords, account information or other sensitive data. Be sure to double-check the sender’s email before opening any links. Also, avoid emailing personal information until you confirm the sender’s identity.

Regularly Updating and Strengthening Passwords

Be sure to update your passwords regularly to keep your information secure. Use a combination of lower- and upper-case letters and symbols to make passwords as unique as possible. It’s equally important to avoid using passwords that are easy to guess.

Considering Privacy Protection Services

Privacy protection services are another option to protect you. You can use them to remove your information from data broker websites.

Conclusion: Importance of Vigilance in the Digital Age

It’s paramount to stay vigilant in the digital age to shield your personal information, including your phone number, from cyber thieves. However, thieves can use your phone number to intercept two-factor authentication codes and breach your accounts if your phone number appears on the dark web. So, you want to be proactive about protecting your information and act immediately if it is compromised.

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