Question

Why is using Wi-Fi in public spaces like coffee shops and airports risky? What should you do instead?

Answer

When you are on public Wi-Fi, which is usually found for free at coffee shops, malls, airports, or other public places, you may be putting your personal information at risk, especially if you are inputting credit card numbers, passwords, or bank account information. Hackers will often sit near these Wi-Fi spots and hack into the Wi-Fi to steal any information that is transmitted.

 

This actually happened to me* a while back. We were in Vegas and I needed to check-in for my flight and purchase a seat. I knew I was taking a risk, but went ahead and did it anyway, hoping for a good outcome. Nope, within one hour I was getting calls from my credit card company that my card was being used across the country. Don't take the risk. If you must do some sort of personal transaction on free Wi-Fi use your cell service, it's safer than free Wi-Fi for sure!

 

Here are some more tips on keeping safe online from AARP Fraud Watch Network: Public Wi-Fi Scams

 

 

*Part of the online community forum Experts Series where AARP Expert Amy Nofziger was asked questions on protecting ones' savings and digital identity.

Comments

IMO the risk is worth it. If someone uses your credit card fraudently, your card isssuer issues you a new card. You do not have to pay for any fraudelent charges.

 

Not saying it is a hassle, but this has only happened to me once in my life.

Well, putting your personal info I find to be rubbish.  Most public places are forbidden from gaining access to your personal stuff.  Only way for someone to get a hold of your personal info is if you post personal informatioin right where some idiot may be watching your move and that could be a nosy customer in a coffee shop or at a grocery store.  

@PatrickR720159 

 

No, @PatrickR720159  that is not the way your info may be stolen on a public Wi-Fi. 

On a public Wi-Fi, you are sharing a Network with others and thus need use protection and common sense.

Federal Trade Commission - Consumer Info - Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Networks 

 

If you ever read any of the info from aarp on fraud ( and other sites ) you should know it is not wise to give certain information thru public WiFi.  You are at more risks with public WiFi the thru a private server. 

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