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4 Things Never to Do On Public Wi-Fi

Technology breeds crime

En español |  Fraud expert Frank Abagnale knows that technology breeds crime. One of the richest sources of potential victims:  people using free public Wi-Fi. When you are at a public place that offers free Wi-Fi, like your neighborhood coffee shop, the airport, or the library, follow these guidelines:

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  • Don’t access your email, online bank or credit card accounts when on public Wi-Fi. This is because con artists may set up fake networks that seem like the real thing but aren’t (this is known as the “evil twin” scam).
  • Don’t let your mobile device automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi. It might connect you to a fake network, and it’s a real battery drainer. You can find a way to turn this feature off in your device’s settings.  If you use an iPhone, launch the Settings app, tap on Wi-Fi, and switch the “auto-join” tab to off. If you’re using an Android device, go to Settings, Wireless, Wi-Fi, press the Menu button, choose “Advanced,” and then disable the “Network Notification” option.
  • Don’t visit a website that requires sensitive information, like a credit card number, on public Wi-Fi. In short, anything that requires a password shouldn’t be accessed on public Wi-Fi.
  • Wait until you are on a secured private network. While cellphone networks have their own risks, they are generally safer than free public Wi-Fi. Recognize that data charges may apply if you surf using your cellphone network.

Go to aarp.org/WatchYourWiFI to learn more.

Have you been scammed or have you spotted a scam? Share your story on AARP’s interactive Scam-tracking Map. You can also visit the map to read up on law enforcement alerts about scams and fraud in your area.

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