(WHTM) — Many public wi-fi networks do not have strong security. That makes it easy for tech-savvy scammers to take advantage.

AARP says these are the warning signs:

  • The public wi-fi network lets you log in without using a password
  • The network has a generic founding name. For example: “free public wi-fi”.
  • You are asked to pay for the connection.

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Here is what you should do:

  • Ask the staff at the business the exact name of its network
  • Be careful what you do on public networks. It is usually okay to browse the web and check the news or the weather.
  • Consider tethering your laptop to your phone and using your mobile provider’s data network instead of public wifi. You may incur charges, but you will be more secure.
  • Turn off wi-fi and Bluetooth when you are not using them
  • Use antivirus software and keep it up to date.
  • Consider signing up for a virtual private network, or VPN. It will encrypt your data, even on unsecured wi-fi networks.

Here is what you shouldn’t do on public wi-fi networks:

  • Don’t use public wi-fi to do online banking, make purchases, check email or use social media.
  • Don’t go to sites where you have to enter a username or password.
  • Don’t allow your device automatically connect to any available wi-fi network. You can check the network settings to make sure the function is turned off.

Also, once you are finished using online accounts, you should always log out of them.

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