Beware of “Free Wi-Fi” scams

smart phone and wireless communication

When traveling this summer, double check before connecting your laptop, tablet, or smartphone to free Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces. It may be labeled something non-specific like “Free Public Wi-Fi.” While this may look harmless, connecting to an unknown network could result in a hacking. Scammers will use fake Wi-Fi hotspots to steal personal information and gain access to your device. Everything that you do online, like making purchases and logging into accounts, could now be transmitted through the scammer’s computer. This means they can access passwords, credit card information, and other personal data you’ve entered online.

BBB and the FTC offer these suggestions to safely use public Wi-Fi connections:

  • Be sure you are using the correct Wi-Fi connection. Verify the name of the name of the connection before joining. Scammers often set up fake hotspots next to real ones.
  • Be careful how you use public Wi-Fi. Be sure the site is fully encrypted before making a purchase or logging into an account.
  • Consider using a VPN. A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts traffic between your computer and the Internet on unsecured networks.
  • Always use antivirus software and a firewall. Protect your internet-connected devices with anti-virus software and a firewall from a reputable company.
  • Use good password sense. Create strong passwords and use a different password for each action to help protect yourself from hacking.
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