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76 Percent Say Free WiFi Can Lead to Identity Theft [INFOGRAPHIC]

They're so popular, those ubiquitous mobile devices. For better or worse, we've evolved into a society that is a texting, Instagramming, Snapchatting, online-banking, TMI-ing, forever-connected, 24/7-kind of world.

There's positives to that, for sure, and is a great way to stay connected. But have you ever considered the negatives when you're doing all that in a public wireless hotspot? After all, identity theft is a huge epidemic -- have you ever thought about the risks to your personal life by using a "free" Internet connection? What information are you (over)sharing? Is that data protected and encrypted from prying eyes? What security tools do you use regularly?

PRIVATE WiFi recently partnered with our friends at the Identity Theft Resource Center about overall consumer privacy beliefs in WiFi hotspots. The results as shown in the infographic below are startling yet informative.

Click here to enlarge infographic.

Consider that 76% of the 700 surveyed believe that using a free public WiFi hotspot connection can lead to identity theft. (That means the vast majority don't necessarily trust wireless hotspots -- while 20% were not sure if they should be concerned and 4% did not think it could lead to identity theft.) Yet 46% of those respondents were not aware there is a way to protect their private information while using a public hotspot!

“Every day we read about public areas like parks, train stations, and schools adding free public WiFi, but we are not hearing about what this means for individuals using these services, the hazards that prowl, or how to protect ourselves,” said Kent Lawson, founder and CEO of PRIVATE WiFi.

“The public needs to know just how easy it is for hackers to hack into these public airwaves and steal your private information right out of thin air," he adds.

Ignorance is not bliss – identity theft can cause a huge headache and cost a lot of money if the proper precautions are not taken.

“The most reliable solution to keep private information private and what we, at ITRC, recommend is to use a personal VPN,” said Eva Velasquez, president and CEO at the ITRC.

“VPN technology offers the greatest level of protection and is an easy solution for anyone choosing to use free public WiFi,” she adds.

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