A VISUAL RETELLING

My Life Got Blasted on the Dark Web

And this is how I handled it.

I want to share this story for two reasons. One, I don’t know if I have processed what happened yet entirely. It was only yesterday that I found out that I had been doxed (or doxbinned, as a hacker referred to it when I found out). I have since been scrambling to minimize the damage it could wreak on my future.

Second, I hope it will provide immediate answers to anyone else who may end up in the same situation. The key is to respond quickly and efficiently. If you have come to this article for that reason, stop what you’re doing and please go scroll down to find out what you need to do to take care of this. Then take care of it. Now.

To the rest of you, this is a gentle warning.

I didn’t know what doxing was until yesterday.

#lulz #owned #ruin

Finding Out

Monday I got a text from Chase.

I responded a quick “No” text and was told a representative will reach out to me later. I got a call about an hour or two later. The $300 charge wasn’t the only one that had popped up in my account. There were a number of Steam charges and another for MMORPG gold. This was coming from my debit card.

I was quick to respond with a sharp “NOT mine” as he began listing my latest transactions, but trying to remain calm. I had experienced something similar before when my debit card information had been taken from a gas station in Florida. Then, like now, charges were marked as fraud, the card was deactivated, and I move on with my life.

Once my phone call wrapped up with the representative, I felt at ease once again. I ditched the old plastic and went on with the rest of my day.

The next day I was standing in the local humane shelter helping direct a small, partnered social media video when I got another text from an unrecognized number.

Is this Mariah Dunn?
Is this Mariah Dunn?

As I freelancer, I thought it could be a referral. I responded that I was and asked who this could be. I can tell you now, this person never revealed their name. This was the response.

Somebody doxbinned u on the dark web hunny.
Somebody doxbinned u on the dark web hunny.
There are more inferences that this anonymous person was a female, perhaps a white-hat hacker.

My heart dropped. My immediate response back was “WTF is that?”. Quickly I Googled the term, having a difficult time figuring it out from the results coming up on my phone at the time. Only one result came up on Google and it was absolutely useless.

Not sure how this is the only result on Google for this.

The anonymous individual responded quickly saying my debit card information had been posted. That came with a sigh of relief, I found that out yesterday and had already changed the card.

I asked if there was any other information on this posting, whatever it may be, that could be dangerous to me.

“She” (the texter/hacker) didn’t answer that question immediately but offered her services to remove the post, later stating it would be $20.

Then she told me my address down to the apartment number. Having only moved into the apartment in January, I was starting to feel a little nauseous.

“Users on the dark web can swat u, which means they’ll send the police…”

I’m holding a kitten and smiling at my coworker as we wrap up the video. Inside, I’m crumbling. How did this happen? What am I supposed to do? Can I trust this person texting me?

We return to the office and I’m thinking of my ex-boyfriend. Just a month prior he had picked me up at the end of the day and told me that he had lost his job. My hands were clammy as I nodded. He was behind the wheel of my car so I tried to contain my reaction. The implication that it was entirely my fault, heavy in the air.

When we returned to the apartment I picked up the keys where he had left them and clenched them in my fist as I told him I wanted him out by the end of the week. Not great timing. The events of the previous weekend, the escalation of the previous weeks, had brought me to this point. One thing stuck with me, “You shouldn’t mess with someone who knows technology.” That was one of many things he said as I left and waited out the remainder of his stay at AirBnBs and friend’s places.

I couldn’t prove anything. I can’t still. I continued to message this hacker and eventually, she sent me a picture of the listing.

I am leaving out the additional information, but thankfully it was just information.

Instead of sending $20, I blocked the hacker and called my brother.

Handling It

I am fortunate enough to have a brother who does technology work in the military. Even more fortunate that he had to be at home yesterday to receive my call.

When he picked up, I asked him why his voice sounded weird. My paranoia getting the best of me, he said he was on his motorcycle taking the call probably through his helmet. I relayed what had transpired already and this was his response.

1. Call Your Credit Card Companies to Report and Replace

I am lucky in a number of respects but seeing what information was posted was certainly at the top. I knew exactly the cards that had been compromised. Chase had been handled but another was listed and I may as well take care of the rest while I was at it.

Go through recent transactions and be sure that they are all correct. Report if otherwise.

2. Freeze Your Credit

Freeze your credit at all three bureaus. My social security number was not shared, but it’s not uncommon for it to happen. Enough information was out that I didn’t want anyone trying to open a credit card, take out a loan, or God-knows-what-else. Freezing your credit will provide some security against that.

3. Change Your Passwords

Bank passwords in particular, but this can extend to social media as well. The best route you can use here is to utilize the free tool Last Pass to generate random passwords and store them. Just ensure you don’t forget your master password!

4. Report It

Report it to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Once you have a report number, you can report it to the police and turn over the FTC report to them as well, if needed.

5. Sign Up For Credit Monitoring

You can sign up for free on CreditKarma and certain banks and insurance companies offer this as well.

An additional option would be looking into hiring a white-hat hacker to have the posting removed as well. I won’t be enlisting this option in an effort to avoid any additional retaliation.

While my circumstances, and this article, were particular to information getting out, it is more common for images to emerge from cases like this. I wish I could offer help in that regard, but this is all I got. It’s an unfortunate reality we live in today, and my experience with the local police on this matter doesn’t encourage me to feel like it’s something they can help with.

My scenario is, unfortunately, one of the best to come out of this. The darknet and those who enlist it for nefarious reasons are very likely to get away with it for years to come. As the world adjusts to the rising use of technology, I hope that we will see a day where this is not the case. For the time being, I encourage you to check out this article to learn more.

If someone is in a similar circumstance, feel free to reach out to me at MariahRuthDesign@gmail.com. Everyone else, be safe and good luck out there.

👩🏻‍💻(She/her)providing website + graphic design for fellow freelancers with 📈 business + personal goals in mind so they can show up confident online.

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