Scam Alert: BBB warns of public charging stations with new ‘juice jacking’ cyber-theft

press release from Better Business Bureau

Atlanta, GA – Better Business Bureau Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & NE Georgia urges travelers to exercise caution when plugging devices into public charging ports. These USB charging stations – often found in spots popular with travelers – are part of a new cyber-theft tactic called “juice jacking.”

Sample Narrative:

You’re in a public place, such as a hotel, coffee shop, or airport, and you need to charge your phone. You notice a free, public charging station that uses a USB cable. No need to bring your own plug!

You plug in your phone, and everything seems okay at first. But soon your phone 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.

Top-3 Tips to Safely Charge Your Device When on the Road:

  1. Avoid using USB charging stations. Use an AC power outlet or car charger instead. Be sure to bring these when travelling.
  2. 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.
  3. Keep your phone up to date. Be sure to update your operating system and anti-virus software on your phone or other devices.
For More Information:

Learn more about malware scams at and this article from McAfee on how to tell if your smartphone has been hacked.

If you have been the victim of a phone hacking scam, report your experience on the The information you share can help other people protect themselves from similar schemes.


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