Two federal agencies in the United States- the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – a are issuing warnings to smartphone owners that contain good, sound advice no matter what country one is in, namely not to use public USB chargers and not to keep balances in their mobile payment accounts such as those from PayPal and Venmo.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States sternly warned iPhone and Android device owners: Don’t plug your USB device(s) into charging stations, cables, devices, and chargers that are not under your control.
So-called “juice jacking” is the practice of using public USB ports to load malware onto devices.
“Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels, or shopping centers,” the FBI wrote in the bulletin published on its website. “Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices that access these ports. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.”
Meanwhile, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector, wants people to know that mobile payment apps do not have the same protections in place to protect balances that banks have, even though many people use them as a bank account.
Rohit Chopra, the director of the CFPB, issued a statement on Thursday in which he said that consumers “are increasingly used as substitutes for a traditional bank or credit union account but lack the same protections to ensure that funds are safe.”
The comments come in the wake of several high-profile bank failures including Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. The banks’ customers were made whole because the deposits were federally insured. Mobile payment companies such as PayPal and Venom are not banks and hence any funds held by a user in an account with one of these companies would be at risk if the company were to fail.
“If a nonbank payment app was to go bankrupt as a result of these risks, customers may not be the only creditors with claims on the company’s remaining assets,” the CFPB said in a statement. “Even if consumers do not ultimately lose any funds, they may face significant delays in accessing their funds while the bankruptcy process unfolds.”
(Photo: Accura Media Group)