• June 2, 2022
  • Posted by General Electric Credit Union
  • 3 read

The Dark Web: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself

The dark web. You hear about it in movies, court cases, and the news, but do you really know what it is and how it can impact you as a law-abiding citizen? Familiarizing yourself with security risks can help you properly fortify your defenses. When it comes to the dark web, there are a handful of tools and resources you can use to safeguard your finances and steer clear of identity theft

Understanding the dark web

The dark web is a hidden part of the internet often associated with illegal activity. Users can access it through special software and enjoy complete anonymity. It’s estimated to be up to 500 times bigger than the normal web you use every day, so you can imagine the wealth of information and products – illegal and otherwise – available there.1

Can the dark web pose a threat to you even if you’re not trying to access it? Unfortunately, yes. Fraudsters may try to steal your information and sell it to other criminals on the dark web. How do they accomplish this? Through scams like phishing, data breaches, or simply digging through your trash for a discarded bill. Once your information is in the hands of criminals, they may use it to open bank accounts or credit in your name, make fraudulent purchases, and much more. Thankfully, there are steps you can take today to avoid this issue to the best of your ability. 

Protecting your money

The best way to safeguard your identity and finances is to enlist some best practices. These include: 

  • Shredding important documents. Any mail or documents you receive with personal identifiable information should be disposed of responsibly. Criminals aren’t afraid to stoop low to get the information they need, and this includes digging through your trash. Shredding ensures they can’t pull account numbers and more they may be inclined to share on the dark web. 
  • Updating passwords. Get into the habit of changing your passwords regularly across all online accounts. Keep in mind that passwords should include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Do not incorporate personal information such as your birth month, the name of your dog, or the street you live on – criminals may already have access to this information and use it to guess your password. To make it easier to track and remember new login information, download a password manager app on your device. 
  • Adopting digital solutions. 
    • eStatements and Bill Pay2 will reduce the amount of mail you receive with sensitive information on them, helping you curb your risk of identity theft. Plus, you can conveniently access your statements and bills under one login. 
    • Debit Card Controls. Turn your card on or off, set spend limits, get real-time alerts about your card activity, and much more. 
    • Alerts. Always know what’s going on with your accounts. With alerts, you can react to fraudulent activity quicker and minimize the fall out. 
    • Online or mobile banking. Monitor for suspicious activity right from your device, 24/7, 365.3 
  • Using ID Navigator Powered by NortonLifeLock™.4 This software continuously patrols the dark web and private forums to check for personal identifiable information that may belong to you. Should it be found, notifications are sent with suggested next steps. Tip: General Electric Credit Union (GECU) credit cardholders get complimentary access to this security-boosting tool. 

GECU is here to help with Improving the Quality of Your Financial Life, and that means opening the door to opportunity – and closing the door to fraud. We help you accomplish this with digital tools, ID Navigator Powered by NortonLifeLock™, and our Security Center, which you can use to learn more about identity theft, fraud tactics, and online and email safety. If you ever suspect fraud, contact the Credit Union immediately. We can guide you through the process and provide tips to help you avoid future issues. 

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