A television commercial offers to find if your personal information is on the dark web.
The first time I saw that Experian commercial, I immediately said, "Well that's really stupid!" (Maybe I added a few colorful adjectives as well to my shouted out remarks.)
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Experian is preying on the fear of the dark web to sell their services. Let's just assume for the sake of this question that everything that is sold on the "dark web" is less than legal. (That's what Experian is implying.) Why would Experian have any special access to less than legal information, more so than anyone else? Does that make sense?
If Experian did have some sophisticated way of searching the dark web and finding less than legal databases of information, wouldn't they have a legal obligation to report their findings to the police or other government agencies, rather than offering this information as a service?
For the sake of this question, let's address the basic question of "what is the danger if your information is on the dark web?”
We all should be worried about all of our information on the deep web, just above "the evils" of the dark web.
Do a search on your name, does it bother you that your current address, age, employer, and contact information is so readily available on the public web? Does it bother you that there are so many websites on the internet, that are offering to sell you information about people?
If a hacker had downloaded an entire database of information illegally, why would they have the contents stored where someone could access it? (As Experian is implying.) Unless you are someone rich and famous where one single bit of information could be used to blackmail an individual, if a hacker steals a database, they are going to sell the entire database.
And you would trust Experian?
It is pretty ironic that Experian, the company who had their servers hacked exposing the personal data of 15 million T-Mobile customers wants to help me find identity thieves on the dark web.
Lessons from the Experian hack: Lessons from the Experian hack
Experian Faces Class Action Over T-Mobile Data Breach: Experian Faces Class Action Over T-Mobile Data Breach - Cohen & Malad, LLP
Experian wants you to be afraid, very afraid of the dark. In exchange for their services, they are asking you to sell your soul to them. In order for you to have Experian check the darkness in your name, you are agreeing to Experian's terms of service:
"... Experian's terms of service and found a densely written, nearly 17,600-word document — a contract the length of a novella.
Not surprisingly, this is where you'll find an arbitration clause preventing you from suing the company — an increasingly common aspect of consumer contracts nowadays. That's the least of your worries, though.
It turns out running a free dark-Web email scan opens you up to "advertisements or offers for available credit cards, loan options, financial products or services, or credit-related products or services and other offers to customers."
Are You Afraid of Credit Bureaus?
Their commercial infuriates me. It preys upon fear and ignorance. I am much more afraid of what damage a credit bureau could do to my life than any information you could find about me on the dark web.
Let me conclude this answer with another question. What frightens you more, the thought of finding your information on the dark web or credit bureaus like Experian having the right to sell your information as they do?
In case you are curious: