The latest market research reveals that there are more than 71,000 wireless hotspots in the United States, a list that is growing each day. Chicago has almost 800 sites, just behind New York and San Francisco.
The FBI's top cyber-security agent in Chicago warns that when you connect at the corner coffee shop, electronic thieves may be lurking in the air.
"Using coffee shop wireless or free Wi-Fi or especially hotel Internet is not safe," said Special Agent Todd Carroll, FBI cyber-security unit.
Special Agent Todd Carroll tells the I-Team that coffee, tea and laptops have become a favorite target of cyber-thieves as more free Wi-Fi spots become available in Chicago.
At FBI headquarters on the West Side, Carroll says that common sense is the first line of protection but many times overlooked.
"You shouldn't be checking your personal emails and you definitely shouldn't be checking your personal bank accounts. Unless you are going to go ahead and change an email password as soon as you return home. They're unsecure. A lot of people just sit on them and they collect information and they're just looking for you to log into your bank account or they're looking for you to log into your emails and they're going to look through there to see if there is anything that can be used against you," said Carroll.
Authorities say most Wi-Fi cyber-theft victims don't realize they've been targeted until their credit cards and bank accounts have been hacked and abused. And even then, it is nearly impossible to trace a Wi-Fi thief who has used a public network.
The FBI says that was the case with one of Chicago's most respected Roman Catholic bishops. Stay tuned Wednesday night at 10 for the I-Team's exclusive look into how his email was pirated by foreign scammers and the outrageous crimes they have been committing.