If you are travelling and your battery is running low, a charging station may seem like a lucky find, but think twice before plugging in your phone or other devices. These USB charging stations – often found in spots popular with travellers – are part of a new cyber-theft tactic called “juice jacking.”
The scam is set up in a public place, such as a hotel, coffee shop or airport, and offers a free charging station that uses a USB cable – no need to bring your own plug.
Everything seems OK after you’ve connected the device, but soon it starts acting strangely. Maybe your battery or data plan drain faster than normal, or your phone is especially slow. These are signs that you may have malware running in the background.
The “charging station” was actually a way for scammers to download malware to your phone. This software can record and/or send private details such as passwords, addresses or even a full backup of the phone to thieves.
Tips to safely charge your device when on the road:
- Avoid using USB charging stations. Instead, use an AC power outlet or car charger. Be sure to bring these when travelling.
- If you travel frequently, invest in a portable charger or external battery. Or carry a charging-only cable, which prevents anyone from downloading data to your phone when charging.
- Keep your phone up to date and update your operating system and anti-virus software regularly.
Visit bbb.org for more tips on how to identify and avoid scams.