person typing on their tablet while at a coffee shop

Public Hot Spots

"FREE" Public Wi-Fi is Never Private

Summer is a popular time for travel and a great perk of traveling is finding a free Wi-Fi spot but be careful you are not signing up for more than you bargained for. Unfortunately, hackers can use these networks to capture personal information that is exchanged over these public connections. Or, they set up a phony public Wi-Fi hotspot in order to connect to your device and steal your data while you happily use the internet.

Why does it matter?

If the network isn’t secure, and you log into an unencrypted site other users on the network can view what you see and send. New hacking tools make it easy to hijack your session, even for users with limited knowledge. Your personal information, private documents, contacts, family photos, and even your login credentials could be at risk.

It is also possible that a scammer could impersonate you and scam people on your contact lists or test your usernames and passwords on other websites. If a thief gets your personal or financial information, they could steal your identity.

Here's how to avoid it.

  • If you can avoid public Wi-Fi, it’s safer to save your web traffic for your home network or your cellular connection.
  • Use a VPN to prevent others from seeing what you do online
  • If you must use public Wi-Fi connections, avoid sensitive activity like banking, accessing your email account, or other password-protected account use.
  • If you are not using your device’s Wi-Fi connection, turn it off. This will prevent it from accessing a hotspot automatically, which it may do if you’re in an establishment where you have used Wi-Fi before.
For more information to help you protect your financial information and identity, view more of our insider tips.