After game designer and writer Jane McGonigal sent her Pixel 5a to Google for repair, someone reportedly stole and hacked her device. This is at least the second report in as many weeks from someone claiming to have sent a Google phone in for repair only to divulge their personal information and photos. McGonigal posted a detailed report on the situation on Twitter on Saturday and advised other users not to send their phones in for repair.
Yes, don’t send your Google phone in for warranty repair or replacement. As happened with others, last night someone logged into my Gmail, Drive, Photo Backup email account, my Dropbox with it, and I can see from the activity logs that they opened a series of selfies hoping to find nudes
– Jane McGonigal (@avantgame) December 4, 2021
In October, McGonigal sent her broken phone to an official Pixel repair center in Texas. She later tweeted that Google said they never received the phone and was billed for a replacement device in the weeks that followed.
However, according to McGonigal, FedEx tracking information shows the device arrived at the facility weeks ago. Late on Friday night – a few hours after she says she finally got a refund for the device – someone appears to have used the “missing” phone to clear the two-factor authentication checks and log into several of her accounts, including their Dropbox, Gmail, and Google Drive.
The activity triggered several email security alerts to McGonigal’s backup accounts. However, she speculates that everyone who owns the phone used it to access their backup email addresses and then moved all of the security alerts to their spam folder.
“The photos they opened showed me in swimsuits, sports bras, form-fitting clothes, and stitches after surgery,” writes McGonigal. “You deleted Google security notifications from my backup email accounts.”
In a statement emailed to The edgesays Google spokesman Alex Moriconi: “We are investigating this claim.” It is still unclear whether the device may have been intercepted in the repair shop or during transport, or who has it now. Googles official repair manual recommend backing up and then erasing a device before sending it in. However, as Jane McGonigal points out, depending on the damage, it is either difficult or impossible to do.
The whole situation reminds us of the safety concerns when we turn in our equipment for repair and unfortunately there is a precedent for such activities. In June, Apple paid a woman millions After the repair, technicians posted their nude photos on Facebook. Apple recently said it would start selling DIY repair kitswhich gives users the ability to fix their own phones, or at least have the job done by someone a user trusts, rather than sending it in or dropping it off at an Apple Store.
For pixel smartphones: Your options for official service are provided either by mail-in or, in some countries, by a local service through an authorized provider. Google is cooperating with in the USA uBreakiFix Franchise. Whatever phone you have, the options for repairs are still somewhat limited and you must rely on no one with bad intentions to get their hands on your phone while it is not in your possession.