KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Millions of people will do all of their holiday shopping right from their smartphones or tablets, but scammers may be looking to capture your personal information through the free Wi-Fi signals to which you connect.
Scam Number 8: The Evil Wi-Fi Twin
These days, free Wi-Fi is available at malls, restaurants and almost all public places. They are advertised as secure connections, but some are not what they seem.
"There are certain ones you would trust, but most retail establishments, and restaurants and things like that have volumes of people coming in, I'd be a little weary of it," said Jerry Tipton of the Better Business Bureau of Greater East Tennessee.
Scammers are targeting those trusted Wi-Fi signals and using them to catch people off guard.
For example, say you go to XYZ Cafe and you connect to their free Wi-Fi, but there are two signals claiming to be XYZ Cafe. Both are the same name and both free.
The problem is only one is actually a secure connection provided by the establishment. The other is likely a scammer nearby using the same signal name, waiting to steal your personal information and possibly your identity.
"It can take years if you get your identity stolen. It can take years and thousands of dollars to get that straightened out," said Tipton.
Experts say you should avoid doing your shopping or anything else that requires entering personal information on public Wi-Fi signals.
"I would definitely use a secure site," said Tipton. "I would not go to the mall or something and try to online shop for something."
If you come across multiple signals, make sure you go to a manager or owner of the establishment to find out which one is really the secure network.
Our "12 Scams of Christmas" countdown continues on Tuesday, Nov. 19 during Good Morning Tennessee. If you like coupons, you'll definitely want to tune in to see how scammers may target you.