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Watch For Scams Newsletter. Public WiFi
October 23, 2019

Public WiFi

Watch For Scams is dedicated to helping you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

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Public WiFi

Wi-Fi is everywhere today, with cafes, libraries and even laundromats offering access to free Wi-Fi networks. Many public networks lack strong security protections, which makes it easy for tech-savvy scammers to break into them and take advantage of unwary users — many of whom are doing a lot more than just looking up restaurants or checking the weather. That doesn’t mean that you should never use public Wi-Fi, but it pays to be careful and follow some basic precautions.

How It Works

• One way scammers try to get your data in a place with public Wi-Fi is by setting up an “evil twin” network. This Wi-Fi network has a similar name to the one you are expecting to use, and the scammers hope that you will mistakenly connect to it. Once you do, the scammer can access all of what you access within it. Typing in a password? The scammer can grab that. Shopping online? The scammer can nab your credit card details.

• Another ploy scammers use is a “man in the middle” attack. In this setup, the scammer sits between you and the Wi-Fi access point to try to intercept your data. As with the evil twin scheme, the goal is to steal passwords, credit card information or anything else of value.

What You Should Know

• If a public Wi-Fi network does not require a password, it probably isn’t secure

• If you are prompted to enter a credit card to access the public Wi-Fi network, be wary. This could be a scammer trying to get you to enter your credit card information to steal it

What You Should Do

• Avoid using public Wi-Fi to conduct online banking or make purchases. Also, avoid checking email or social media where your passwords or data can be exposed. Stick to browsing news, sports, weather or traffic

• If you access public Wi-Fi more than occasionally, look into installing a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, which will help protect your data

• Make sure your device is set so that it does not automatically connect to available public Wi-Fi access points

If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

Remember - always watch for scams!


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