Free public Wi-Fi, available at places like airports and coffee shops, are convenient, but can be risky.

How It Works:

Scammers monitor commonly used Wi-Fi network names, and set up their own “evil twin” access points in hopes your computer or device will automatically connect to it without your consent. Or they launch a “man in the middle” attack, by hacking in between you and your Wi-Fi connection. Their goal? To grab your emails, credit card numbers, and passwords.

What You Should Know:

Any data you send over free public Wi-Fi is vulnerable, so be thoughtful about how you use it.

What You Should Do:

  • Ask an employee at the location offering free public Wi-Fi for the name of the network. Don’t just assume that “free airport Wi-Fi” is a legitimate wireless network; it could have been set up by a hacker to trick you into connecting.
  • Stick to browsing the web, checking news, weather, or traffic when on public Wi-Fi.
  • Avoid online banking, checking emails, making credit card purchases or even posting on social media on public Wi-Fi.
  • Check your device’s settings to make sure it doesn’t automatically connect to any free public Wi-Fi that you’re in range of.
  • If you find you use public Wi-Fi regularly, play it safe and sign up for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that keeps your data secure.  Some are free, while others charge a subscription.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams!

To report a possible scam in your neighborhood, go to the AARP Fraud Watch Network site at  There you can add it to the “scam map” and alert law enforcement so they can investigate it.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network connects you to the latest information about ID theft and fraud so you can safeguard your personal information and your pocketbook.
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If you or someone you know has been a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact the AARP Foundation Fraud Fighter Center at 877-908-3360.
Share this alert with your family and friends so they know how to spot the common strategies scammers use and have the tools they need to defend themselves against their tricks.
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