For this week’s Tuesday’s Tips, the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is warning New Yorkers of a potential scam called “juice jacking,” where thieves place hidden skimming units inside USB ports of public cellphone charging kiosks at airports, hotels and other public spaces to steal data. With peak travel season approaching, New Yorkers are urged to take protective measures to reduce the risk of data theft when traveling given the wide array of scams plaguing the marketplace. Follow the New York Department of State on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and check in every Tuesday for more practical tips that educate and empower New York consumers on a variety of topics. Sign up to receive consumer alerts directly to your email or phone here.
“Summer is peak travel season when New Yorkers are constantly on the go heading to events, gatherings and vacations with friends and family,” said Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “Unfortunately, nefarious scammers are always at work finding new ways to target unsuspecting consumers and steal their personal information. If you need to charge your phone or any device while traveling, it’s important to pay attention to how and where you charge these items to protect yourself from falling victim to a potential ‘juice jacking’ scam.”
The FBI and the Federal Communications Communication (FCC) have issued warnings about the juice jacking scam. The FCC has a dedicated webpage warning that malware installed through a corrupted USB port can lock a device or export personal data and passwords directly to a skimming perpetrator. Before using a public phone charger, consumers should understand how hackers can potentially steal data through these kiosks and that any device that requires charging via USB is vulnerable, including tablets, smart watches and laptops.
TIPS TO HELP PREVENT JUICE JACKING
- Carry a portable battery charger and your own charging cables.
- Use the wall plug-in socket to charge your devices.
- If you plug your device into a USB port and a prompt appears asking you to “share data” or “trust this computer” or “charge only,” always select “charge only.”
- If you need to charge your device through a USB port, consider a USB device called a data blocker that connects to your phone's charging cable and keeps data from being transmitted through the USB cord.
- If you must use a public charging station, power off your device before plugging into the charging port.
About the New York State Division of Consumer Protection
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides resources and education materials to consumers on product safety, as well as voluntary mediation services between consumers and businesses. The Consumer Assistance Helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, excluding State Holidays, and consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.
For more consumer protection tips, follow the Division on social media at Twitter: @NYSConsumer and Facebook: www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.