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BBB: Free Wi-Fi at airports can lead to identity theft

Many airports and other public spaces offer free connections making it easy and convenient for you to log onto the Internet from your tablet, laptop or smartphone.
“Hackers are taking advantage of travelers who want to stay connected,” said Better Business Bureau President Tom Bartholomy. “They are setting up fake Wi-Fi connections designed to steal your personal information without you even knowing it.”
How it works: Although hackers have set up fake Wi-Fi connections in many locations, airports are a favorite hotspot. When searching for available network connections, you may see a connection that could simply be named “Free Wi-Fi” or “Airport Wi-Fi”.
Unfortunately, the network may actually be a peer-to-peer connection – a Wi-Fi hotspot launched by anyone in the general vicinity. You will be able to surf the Internet, but you are doing it through the hacker’s computer.
While you are online, the hacker is stealing your information including passwords, credit card and bank account numbers, and social security numbers from phone or computer.
The BBB offers the following wireless safety advice:
• Connect securely – Never connect to an unfamiliar wireless network — even if the name sounds genuine.
• Disable automatic connections – Make sure that your computer and smartphone are not set up to automatically connect to any wireless network within your range.
• Turn off the feature that converts your mobile device to a Wi-Fi hotspot to prevent unauthorized users from signing on to your computer or smartphone.
• Turn off file sharing when you are on the road to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive data from your computer or smartphone.
• Create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) – A VPN establishes a private network across the public network which prevents a hacker from intercepting your data.
• Password protect your internet access connections and your mobile device.
For more information, please visit BBB or call 1-877-317-7236 toll-free in N.C. and S.C.

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