Officials warn against using public USB charging stations

LOS ANGELES – Travelers who use USB charging stations at airports and other public areas are being urged to avoid them.

Officials warn the stations could be loaded with malware, leaving users victims of a USB charger scam called "juice jacking," KABC reports.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office posted the warning to Twitter this week, claiming the malware can lock your phone and send private information such as passwords and addresses to criminals.

"It loads itself into the phone and can either monitor the phone in real time, sometimes download information from the phone, sometimes clone the phone completely and you don't even have to be using it," said Deputy District Attorney Luke Sisak.

Those who normally use the charging stations should use these options to avoid becoming a victim:

Use an AC power outlet, not a USB charging station
Take AC and car chargers for devices when traveling
Consider buying portable chargers for emergencies
"Credit cards, passwords to banking accounts, your home address - all of that, if you've ever put it into the internet anywhere could potentially be saved in your history in your phone," Sisak said.