What happens to your personal identity information once it has been compromised, such as in the Equifax data breach?
It often ends up for sale on the dark web, where one security firm says a consumer's entire identity, from Social Security number to Gmail login, can be purchased for less than $1,200.
Simon Migliano, editor-in-chief at Top10VPN.com, which reviews virtual private networks (VPN), writes that every aspect of your online identity is a commodity that can be sold to scammers. The company has broken down what each part of that identity is worth, creating what it calls the Dark Web Market Price Index (DWMPI).
Let's start with your proof of identity, such as a Social Security number or other data to prove who you are. According to the DWMPI, that can sell for around $92.
With it, a scammer can take out a loan or apply for a credit card, netting thousands of dollars. That's a pretty good return on investment, but it doesn't command the highest price on the dark web.
A premium for PayPal
Scammers will pay the most for a consumer's PayPal account log-in. That goes for an average of $247, allowing a thief to quickly clean out the account. After all, it's safer for the thief than trying to use a fake identity to take out a loan.
Your online shopping account login information is also a valuable commodity in the underworld. Thieves pay nearly $165 for account logins for Amazon, Walmart, ebay, Costco, and Macy's, although some individual accounts can go for as little as $10.
Again, it's neat and clean. Thieves can order merchandise that will go on your credit card. They can either use what they purchase or sell it for cash.
Other parts of your identity go for a lot less. While it may be no surprise to learn credit card details are among the most traded on the dark web, fraudsters buy and sell access to Uber, Airbnb, and Netflix accounts for less than $10 each.
"Would-be scammers can easily spend more on their lunchtime sandwich than buying up stolen customer logins for online stores," Migliano writes.
Why so cheap? The sad fact is there is so much competing stolen data to choose from that it tends to drag down the price.
Last year's Equifax hack alone, which compromised more than 148 million consumers, has saturated the dark web with stolen personal data. It means someone could purchase your stolen Spotify account log-in for as little as 21 cents.
Migliano says clever dark web marketers are packaging some of the stolen data into bundles. He says the company found listings offering individuals’ name, billing address, mother’s maiden name, social security number, date of birth, and other personal data.