A VPN is a great way to stay safe online. If you frequently use Wifi hotspots at coffee shops and airports you could be at risk. The open wifi scam is not new, there a numerous articles about it happening, you can read about them here and here.
The way this type of attack normally happens is a malicious person is connected to the network and is monitoring all the traffic currently being used. Emails, Webpages, Social Media, absolutely everything.. Some sites will protect you from such attacks by using HTTPS, but many sites do not do this. All your data is there, for the taking. The only solution to protect yourself from this is to use one of the best vpn on the internet. A provider that uses OpenVPN is a great choice as it is very easy to use and very reliable