Identity theft victim Barbara Shaw now knows all to well the dangers of hotel Wifi. Upon returning to the United States recently from a European trip, she checked her airline frequent flier account to make sure that she was credited with all of the miles from her trip, only to find that more than 250,000 miles had been withdrawn from her account and converted into gift cards and mailed to the identity thief who stole them from her account. Eventually, investigators discovered that Ms. Shaw had become a victim of identity theft when she thought she was using a hotel Wifi system when in fact, it was a phony Wifi system set up at the hotel at which she was staying so when she used the Wifi at the hotel to go into the account, she provided the information to the identity thieves who were able to get all of the information they needed to access her account.
Make sure that the Wifi you are using is the legitimate Wifi of the hotel, restaurant or other venue that you are using. Confirm with the hotel or restaurant that the address of the Wifi is the correct one. Any computer or tablet that has wireless capabilities activated should also have security software installed at the same time. One of the best ways to protect yourself when using Wifi is to encrypt your data. Make sure your wireless router has an encryption mechanism and that it is turned on. Even wireless routers that have encryption capabilities are often delivered with this feature turned off. It is up to you to make sure that your encryption feature is functioning. Most wireless routers also have a feature called Identifier Broadcaster that announces your presence to other devices in the Wifi area. Make sure that yours is turned off so you are not alerting anyone to your computer’s presence. Finally, even if your Identifier Broadcaster is turned off, wireless routers come equipped with a standard default identifier for your particular computer. This default identifier is known by identity thieves and hackers, so change your identifier so that your computer cannot be accessed by identity thieves and hackers.