Don’t Get Hacked: Keep Your Data Safe at Phone Repair Shops

With mobile phones becoming an essential part of our daily lives, protecting our personal information and data is crucial. While most phone repair shops are reputable, there’s always a chance of data or even part theft during the repair process. To ensure your data stays safe, it’s important to take precautions when handing over your phone for repair. This includes securing your device with a passcode or factory resetting it before repair.

In recent news, a woman’s intimate photos leaked online after sending her iPhone for repair. Apple settled the lawsuit with the 21-year-old woman whose photos had been leaked to her personal Facebook page. According to the New York Post, Apple has settled for an undisclosed multimillion-dollar settlement with the woman.

How Risky are Cell Phone Repairs?

As mentioned before, most cell phone repair shops are honest and will NOT steal your data. However, there is a small chance that a dishonest tech may snoop around and even steal your data during the phone repair process. It’s always best to be cautious to prevent any data theft or loss.

Do Phone Repair Shops Look at Your Photos?

Phone repair shops generally do not look at personal photos on customers’ devices. Most prioritize their customers’ privacy and reputation and would not risk it by looking at personal photos. However, in some cases, a repair technician may unintentionally see some photos, such as when taking test photos to ensure the device is working properly. Additionally, the photos app is often located near the camera, so a slip of the finger could accidentally open the photos app. While this is unlikely, it’s worth keeping in mind and taking precautions to secure your personal data before handing over your device for repair.

Survey Results: How Often Phone Repair Technicians Look at Customer Photos

We surveyed 121 phone repair shop technicians on Facebook to determine how often they look at customers’ personal photos. Out of 121 shops surveyed, 14% (or 17 shops) reported looking at customer photos at some point. This may occur when testing camera or photo quality during repairs, or when performing data recovery services. However, it’s worth noting that 86% of phone repair shop owners reported never looking at customer photos.

Have you ever looked at customer photos?Results

Do Phone Repair Shops Need Your Password?

In certain situations, phone repair shops may require your passcode or password to diagnose and properly repair your device. This is often the case when repairing phone screens. Technicians need to test the functionality of the new display before returning the device to you.

uBreakiFix, a nationwide cell phone repair company states they need your device passcode to test all functions post-repair. A passcode hinders the ability to thoroughly test all functions. Though providing a passcode is not required, uBreakiFix states “certain device functions cannot be tested and cannot be guaranteed including but not limited to the camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions.

If you are uncomfortable sharing your password with the phone repair shop, you can opt not to share it. Usually, most cell phone repair shops are willing to accommodate any privacy concerns. More than often mobile phone repair shops will offer to test your device with you that way you won’t have to share your password.

Should I Erase My phone Before Repair?

If you have sensitive data on your phone, it is recommended to factory reset and erase your device before repair to prevent any chance of data theft, although it is unlikely. It’s also important to back up your phone to save all your data. Additionally, if your phone has an SD card, be sure to either format it (erase) or remove it before repair.

Additionally, if you are unable to reset your device because it doesn’t power on or is malfunctioning, we recommend not sharing your password and testing the phone with the technician post-repair. Learn what to expect before your next Apple Genius Bar appointment.

How Do I Protect My Data During Phone Repair?

While most phone repair shops are trustworthy and have no interest in stealing your data there are several steps you can take to prevent any dishonest technicians from accessing your personal information during the repair.

  • Lock your device with a password or passcode, and do not share this with the repair shop.
  • Wipe or reset your phone prior to repair. This is especially important if you need to share your passcode with the technician.
  • Alternatively, if you do not want to reset your device and the technician needs your passcode, you can ask to test the device alongside the technician.
  • Lock sensitive files and folders, such as photos, notes, and messages, to prevent the technician from accessing this information.
  • Look at online reviews on Google and Yelp to avoid phone repair shops that have a history of dishonesty.

It is always best to be cautious and take these steps to prevent data theft, even though it is unlikely. Additionally, it’s best to find a cell phone repair shop that is reputable and honest.

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