People are putting the convenience of public Wi-Fi networks ahead of their online security, according to a new report from the AARP Fraud Watch Network.
The survey results indicated thousands of consumers are engaging in activity that could make them victims of hackers looking to steal their personal information, and nearly half are aren't aware of the security issues surrounding public Wi-Fi.
According to the survey, a quarter of adults who access the internet use free public Wi-Fi once a week or more.
"A free Wi-Fi network at an airport, hotel or coffee shop is convenient," says Doug Shadel, AARP Washington state director and fraud expert.
However, without a secure network, people risk oversharing, leaving themselves vulnerable to attacks by con artists and hackers, says Shadel.
Of those who say they use free public Wi-Fi, 27% of respondents say they have banked online via public Wi-Fi in the last three months, the survey shows.
Similarly, 27% of those who use free public Wi-Fi have purchased a product or service over using a credit card. Furthermore, 26% of smartphone users do not use a passcode on their phones.
Among those who have set up access to all or some of their online banking accounts, almost half (45%) say they have not changed their online banking passwords in the past 90 days.
According to AARP, experts encourage internet users to change their online bank account passwords at least every 90 days.
AARP says it is important to be aware of the following:
Furthermore, when on public Wi-Fi, it is important to: