If you’re connecting over public WiFi this season, you may be giving a thief all your information.

Who Is It Targeting:  Anyone who uses the internet over an unsecured shared network

What Is It:  Hacking attack that steals your information while you’re online

What Are They After: Stores can attract customers with free wifi connections, meaning you can sip your latte and browse online for free through their network. Unfortunately, you can’t know who else is online and who may have cracked that network.

Thieves can go after a lot of data by hacking a free wifi network: your financial information like checking or credit card numbers, your account access like usernames and passwords, and even your personal identifiable information like your birthdate and Social Security number.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Unless you absolutely need to connect in public, it’s better to save your browsing for your home secured network.
  • If you rely on free wifi as your main internet connection, make sure you have a VPN installed to keeping prying eyes out of your data.
  • If you’re out shopping, make sure you turn off the wifi to your smartphone or tablet in order to prevent “accidental” connecting to wifi networks that you’ve approved in the past.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more information about current scams and alerts here.

For full details of this scam check out this article from AARP.