Identity Theft HotspotsWho doesn’t love going to their favorite local coffee shop and browsing the Internet while they enjoy their favorite caffeinated beverage?  But while you might find the time relaxing, or productive, a fraudster could be sitting a few feet away having a hay day with your personal information.

Although they are convenient, free Wi-Fi hotspots have become a hot spot for those looking to steal identities.  By creating a wireless network from their computer with the same name as the business, or airport, many people are deceived as to which is the legitimate network.  Once an unsuspecting victim logs into the fraudsters network they can gain access to their victim’s computer and learn their accounts, usernames, and passwords—all the information they need to steal their identity.

The top 5 places to watch out for are as follows:

  • Coffee shops and restaurants- Customers are frequently looking for a place to quickly connect and get some work done or check their accounts; making it easy for fraudsters to target dozens of people in just one day.
  • Airports- Again many people looking for a quick internet connection to get work done or relax between flights.  And since it’s an airport it’s assumed to be safer.
  • Bookstores and libraries- Another popular location for people, especially students, to go and get work done.
  • Doctor’s office or hospital- Waiting at a doctor’s office or hospital can be long and hard so it’s natural to want to connect to the Internet to help pass the time; however, because the network is potentially shared with users who have access to personal billing and insurance information—information an identity thief would want—you are at greater risk.
  • Apartment complex- If you have your own wireless network make sure that it is password protected.  An unprotected network will leave you just as vulnerable to an attack.  This applies to any personal network.

Being alert and aware and taking the steps necessary to protect yourself and your information now can save you a lot of pain and work in the future.