One of the most common ways identity theft occurs is when using a computer, tablet or smartphone over public Wi-Fi. These hotspots are convenient, but they make it easy for identity thieves to steal credit or debit card numbers from you as well as other private information. Whenever you're using public Wi-Fi try to practice these habits to better protect yourself:
Only Turn on Wi-Fi When You Need It
It's very common to just leave your Wi-Fi network interface card on at all times. This habit can be dangerous. If your Wi-Fi NIC is on, then it's still capable of transmitting and receiving data. If you're in a public place, but working within a program that doesn't need to be online, then turn your Wi-Fi off. Doing so will greatly protect you from having your identity stolen while using public Wi-Fi.
Use SSL Whenever Possible
A spoofed email is a form of phishing where an email looks familiar to what you know, from someone you know. It is designed to steal personal information from you, including bank information. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the default way of browsing many sites. This protocol is not secure because it leaves all of your browsing unencrypted and open for anyone on the same public Wi-Fi able to get your username and password information. Check your browser and see if it has an option to enable HTTPS. The added 's' stands for secure, as this is the encrypted version of the HTTP. If your browser doesn't have an option to make HTTPS your default, you can try HTTPS Everywhere. This plugin will make your browser load the HTTPS version of a site - for any site that has a secured version. Using HTTPS, especially for making online transactions, is vital to protecting your identity online. HTTP connections, on the other hand, are not secure. Anyone may see the information you share with HTTP sites - making you particularly vulnerable when making a transaction.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network is typically used by businesses to let their employees outside of the office connect to company resources in a secure way. However, consumers can also pay for VPN services so that they can use an encrypted connection even while connecting over an open public Wi-Fi signal. If you're frequently utilizing public Wi-Fi and want the most security, then using a VPN is one of the safest things you can do.
Don't Have File Sharing Automatically Enabled
It doesn't matter what operating system your computer runs, it should have a default file sharing option. Look at the settings for this and make sure that all file sharing is automatically disabled when on a public Wi-Fi connection. Having this setting enabled makes it easy for anyone else on your public Wi-Fi connection to get access to your computer. Even if they're just able to access a single folder of documents you commonly share, they can use whatever information they find by connecting to your computer to escalate their access.
When in Doubt, Talk to Your Bank
If you believe you're the victim of identity theft, then talk to your bank right away. They can investigate any mysterious charges you have, and help prevent future fraudulent charges.