BBB warns of increase in scammers stealing information through free Wi-Fi

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Logging onto a “free” public Wi-Fi network on your phone or computer could end up costing you your identity and create big financial problems.

“A lot of information is on your computer and smart phone these days,” said President and CEO of the Central Indiana Better Business Bureau, Tim Maniscalo.

The BBB reports a recent spike in scammers stealing information from people who are on unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

“We always see an uptick in this in the summer months because so many people are traveling,” said Maniscalo.

Officials say scammers can set up Wi-Fi connections through a router that appears to have the same name as a business, a hotel or an airport.

“The scammers know that people are traveling and they will set up a Wi-Fi hotspot to make it look like a legitimate Wi-Fi spot where you can get into the network,” said Maniscalo.

People think they are on the right network and then seconds later, a scammer has access to your personal information.

“They are looking to steal any type of personal information like your social security number,” said Maniscalo.

Businesses can also help protect customers from these scams.

“We get people in here all of the time that use our space as an area to work essentially work from home,” said Maniscalo.

Bee Coffee Roasters changes their Wi-Fi password often and checks their usage to stop scammers from getting on their network.

“We have it specifically names so that when they come in and they see it, it says Bee Coffee Roasters Wi-Fi. They are not going to go on some Wi-Fi that says Free Wi-Fi now,” said the owner of Bee Coffee Roasters Andy Gilman.

The BBB says many people later notice suspicious charges. That’s when people need to call your credit card company, your bank and the police.