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Should You Use a ‘Dark Web Scan’ to Protect Your Identity?

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Illustration for article titled Should You Use a Dark Web Scan to Protect Your Identity?

Illustration: Inspiring (Shutterstock)

Identity theft is such a growing problem that it’s become almost routine—Marriott, MyFitness Pal, LinkedIn, Zynga, and even Equifax (of all places) have had high-profile online data breaches in recent years, affecting hundreds of millions of people. To help combat this problem, Experian and other companies are marketing “dark web scans” to prevent data breaches. But what is a dark web scan, and do you need it?

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The dark web, explained 

The dark web is a large, hidden network of websites not indexed or found on typical search engines. It’s also a hub of illegal activity, including the buying and selling of stolen financial and personal information. If your information ends up on dark web sites after a data breach, an identity thief could use that data to open credit cards, take out loans, or withdraw money from your bank account.

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How dark web scans work 

A dark scan will scan the dark web to see if medical identification info, bank account numbers, and Social Security numbers are being shared. If you get positive results, the dark scan service will suggest that you change your passwords, use stronger ones, or put a credit freeze on your credit profiles with the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). A negative search result doesn’t necessarily mean you haven’t had a data breach, of course, as there’s no way for any company to search the entirety of the dark web.

Many of these services offer you a free scan, but that only covers certain information like phone numbers, passwords, and Social Security numbers. If you want to set up alerts, or search for other information like bank account numbers, passports, or your driver’s license, or have access to credit reports (which are already free), these services will typically charge a monthly fee (Experian offers this service for $9.99 per month after a 30-day free trial).

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Is a dark web scan worth paying for? 

Not necessarily. A dark scan will only reveal that your personal information is on the dark web. The most effective steps to protect yourself (cancelling cards, password changes, credit freezes) are free—you don’t need to pay a company for it unless you want to delegate the hassle. And considering the large number of data breaches, it’s actually easier and cheaper to assume your information has been compromised and practice good privacy habits, like frequent password changes.

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In an interview for NBC News’ Better, Neal O’Farrell, executive director of the Identify Theft Council, called dark web scanning “a smoke and mirrors deal” that doesn’t “go to the cause of the problem, which is vigilance, awareness, taking care of your own personal information, freezing your credit.”

It’s also important to understand that the dark web is only one way of selling a stolen identity, as identity thieves can just as easily get this information through phishing or stealing your mail. Of course, a monitoring service can’t hurt if you want to spend the extra money for the alerts—just remember that you can proactively monitor and prevent identity theft for free, and that a dark web scan won’t offer complete protection. If you suspect a data breach, check out this Lifehacker post on the next steps you should take.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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