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Security & privacy

Here’s how much your credit card is now worth on the Dark Web – and the one account worth a lot more

Payment apps make it easy to pay back friends, settle up a restaurant bill or order something online. There’s also a sanitary advantage, as you don’t have to handle credit cards, payment machines or cash.

While convenient, payment apps do carry risks. There are right and wrong ways to use them safely. Tap or click here for our tips on locking down these apps.

The Dark Web counts personal and financial information among its wares up for sale, joining the likes of weapons, drugs, fake money, child pornography, phony documents and more. Now PayPal accounts are also being offered in the illicit marketplace.

Here’s the backstory

The Dark Web has been a haven for stolen credit card information for a long time. But a study from cybersecurity firm Comparitech shows that credit card prices went down this year by 27%, while prices for PayPal accounts went up 194%.

The average price of a physical cloned credit card is $171, or $0.0575 per dollar of credit limits. The study showed that the average price of a hacked PayPal account or balance transfer across all marketplaces is $197, or 9.2 cents per dollar in the account balance (which carried an average balance of $2,133.61).

The price per dollar for PayPal accounts is almost double the price-to-credit limit ratio on physical credit cards. The price for PayPal changed depending on the type of account. Individual accounts were at the lower end, going up to Premier accounts and topping off with Business accounts.

Why PayPal?

PayPal accounts are popular items on the Dark Web for a few reasons:

  • Buyers can access the account from anywhere they have an internet connection.
  • PayPal accounts usually have an existing balance.
  • PayPal is popular because it makes sending money easy. This works for crooks as well.
  • PayPal is accepted by countless merchants, services and retailers.

So how are crooks stealing PayPal accounts? They typically use phishing attacks to steal usernames and passwords to PayPal accounts. That’s why you really need to be careful with unsolicited texts and emails.

Once they have stolen your credentials, crooks can sell them to a buyer who needs only to log in and do what they want with the account. The seller can also transfer money directly into the buyer’s account.

If a stolen PayPal account is connected to a bank or credit card, a crooked seller can transfer money from those sources. They can even use the account’s contact list to ask for money or make a purchase.

How to protect your PayPal and other accounts

Between data breaches, malware and other forms of cyberattacks, your online accounts can’t be 100% safe at all times. But you can take steps to minimize the risks. Here’s how:

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