“Free” public Wi-Fi comes with a hefty price

Public Wi-Fi is convenient for you … and scammers!
From the AARP Fraud Watch Network

There’s nothing not to like about free public Wi-Fi. That is, if you don’t mind giving scammers easy access to all of your data.

How It Works
• Scammers can set up an “evil twin” network — a Wi-Fi network that looks like the one you are expecting to use — hoping you’ll connect to it.
• Scammers can also set up a “man in the middle” attack to get between you and the Wi-Fi access point, in order to intercept your data. Once in, they look to steal passwords and other sensitive information from your device.
• They also set up fake Wi-Fi access points that require a credit card for you to connect to them. They then steal your credit card information.

What You Should Know
• Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure if they don’t require a password to connect to them.
• It’s safer to use your service provider’s network rather than public Wi-Fi, even if it means incurring charges.

What You Should Do
• Ask staff for the exact name of their establishment’s public Wi-Fi network. This way, you are sure you are connecting to it and not a look-alike.
• Limit your activity on public Wi-Fi to activities such as browsing news, sports and weather. Avoid doing anything that requires a username and password.
• If you are a frequent public Wi-Fi user, look into signing up for a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your data protected, even on unsecure public Wi-Fi networks.

To report a scam or for help if you or a loved one has fallen victim, contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360.