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Google Pixel mail-in repair reportedly twice resulted in leaked photos and a privacy nightmare

Google Pixel mail-in repair reportedly twice resulted in leaked photos and a privacy nightmare

After game designer and writer Jane McGonigal sent her Pixel 5a to Google for repair, someone allegedly took her device and hacked it. This is the second report in at least as many weeks that someone has claimed they sent a Google phone in for repair, only to have used it to leak their personal data and photos. McGonigal posted a detailed description of the situation on Twitter on Saturday and advised other users not to send their phones to the company for repairs.

In October, McGonigal sent his broken phone to an official Pixel repair center in Texas. She later tweeted that Google said it never received the phone, and that in the coming weeks, it was charged for a replacement device.

But according to McGonigal, FedEx tracking information shows the device arrived weeks ago on the feature. Late Friday night — when he said he had finally got a refund for the device — it looked like someone tried to clear the two-factor authentication check and log into several of his accounts, including his Dropbox, Includes Gmail and more. The "missing" phone is used. , and Google Drive.

This activity triggered several email security alerts for McGonigal's backup accounts. However, she speculates that whoever has the phone may have used it to access her backup email address and then put a security alert in her spam folder.

McGonigal writes, "The photos they uncovered were of my bathing suit, sports bra, form-fitting dress, and post-surgery stitches." "They have removed Google security notifications from my backup email accounts."

In a statement emailed to The Verge, Google spokesman Alex Moriconi said, "We are investigating this claim." It is still unclear whether the device may have been intercepted within the repair facility or during transit, or who has it now. Google's official repair instructions recommend backing up and then erasing a device before sending it in. Still, as Jane McGonigal points out, this is difficult or impossible, depending on the damage.

Whenever we hand over our equipment for repair, the whole situation reminds us of safety concerns, and unfortunately, there is a precedent for such activity. In June, Apple paid a woman millions after repair technicians posted nude photos of her on Facebook. Apple recently said it would start selling DIY repair kits, giving users the chance to have their phone fixed, or at least worked out by someone a user trusts, at an Apple Store. will bring. As opposed to sending or leaving.

For Pixel phones, your options for official service are either through mail-in or, in some countries, local service through an authorized provider. In the US, Google has partnered with the uBreakiFix franchise. Whatever phone you have, repair options are still somewhat limited, and you end up trusting that no one with bad intentions will lay hands on your phone while it's out of your possession.

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