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Bay Area airports warn travelers: Don’t use the phone chargers

A person uses a smartphone charging station at Rafael Nunez International Airport in Bolívar, Colombia. | Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you're running low on battery at an airport on your way home after Easter, you may want to think twice about using a public phone charging station.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Communications Commission have warned that "bad actors" can load malware onto your phone when it is plugged into a charging station.

"Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices," FBI Denver tweeted Thursday.

The FCC gave similar advice in the months leading up to the 2021 holiday season last year, referring to the phenomenon as "juice jacking," which can lead to malware being installed on a phone and hacking personal information to access online accounts or sell to other bad actors.

"Don't let a free USB charge wind up draining your bank account," the FCC said in a 2021 blog post.

READ MORE: San Francisco Battles Rising Cybercrime ‘Tsunami’ After Oakland Hit Hard

Charging stations are standard in airports, in shopping malls and on some public transit.

Bay Area airports have weighed in, saying that while they have not heard reports of juice jacking locally, they are aware of the practice and encourage passengers to heed the advice of the FBI and the FCC.

"We are aware of this. We meet regularly with our security and law enforcement partners, including the FBI, to review security concerns both physical and cyber," San Francisco International Airport spokesperson Doug Yakel said in an email.

"SJC has not received any reports nor has seen any evidence of this type of activity," said San Jose International Airport spokesperson Keonnis Taylor. "We do, however, encourage travelers to remain vigilant and look twice before plugging in a device to be sure that the infrastructure is free from signs of tampering."

"At this time, there have been no reports of juice jacking at Oakland International Airport, but our aviation security and information technology teams are closely monitoring the situation," said Oakland International Airport spokesperson Kaley Skantz.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at

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