Have you ever come across a situation wherein you went to a phone repair shop to replace your phones broken screen and the guy at the shop uncertainly asks you to write down/remove your passcode or draw the lock screen pattern on a piece of paper?
What did you do?
Did you refute? or simply wrote it down? If you did, you got to be worried about your little treasure chest of personal data and by chance, if you had any sort of private pictures or moments with your partner on your phone, it has likely been shared or leaked online.
It is evident that almost every phone repair shop workers will try to access your personal data on your phone be it with or without your consent. Don’t believe me? read this article about how a repair shop employee finds disturbing images on customers cell phone and later alerted police about the same.
If you are a woman or a girl, repair shop workers will definitely rifle through your private media files, as recent news makes it clear.
Around six men working at “Flint Audio Video” in the US state of Massachusetts, are now facing charges in connection to a state police investigation of illegally accessing and sharing nude photos from the devices of customers brought for repair.
Till now around 13 women have come forward and have alleged that store employees stole and shared their nude images and videos. They also clarified that they never gave anyone from Flint permission to go through their “media files.
According to police, when customers dropped off their phones
Police believe that the alleged unlawful activities must have been going on since 2011.
This is just a blip on the radar. These kinds of activities are evident at every digital repair shop around the world. Tons of nude pictures and videos of innocent victims are being leaked online every day.
In conservative countries, leaking of private pictures of victims could lead to suicidal situations. This is the most terrible thing that can be done to your phone at the hands of so-called repair shops.
So what precautions you must take before surrendering your phone to repair shop?
The fact that local phone repair shops are cheaper than what the authorized service cente will charge, most people prefer their neighborhood repair shop.
It is always recommended to choose authorized service centers, for all kinds of service and repair if in case your phone contains sensitive information. It won’t outright prevent data theft, but at least authorized service center’s employees have strict rules to follow.
Some service centers or local repair shops will ask you to remove or provide them with the passcode or lockscreen password even if the task is just to fix the broken screen or battery/mic replacement.
While you can always refute their requests at first, If they insist on getting your passcode removed then head back home, Connect your device to your computer and take a complete backup of it (encrypted backup using iTunes in case of iPhone) and then secure erase or factory reset your phone. Once you do this, you can surrender your phone and when its back you can perform a restore.
Finally, let’s suppose you spilled coffee on your phone and now it’s completely dead. You do have a backup of the sensitive media however you do not want repair shop employees to access your media by providing them your passcode?
What do you do?
In such a terrible situation, If the repair guy insists on getting your passcode, find a different service center where you can request them to first inspect your phone for the faulty parts and once the phone is revived back to life, ask them to give you a call. Later you can visit the repair shop, enter your passcode and the repair guy to proceed with the diagnosis