Postal repairs from Google Pixel have reportedly led to two leaked photos and a privacy nightmare

After game designer and author Jane McGonigal sent her Pixel 5a in for repair to Google, someone allegedly stole and hacked her device. In any case, this is the second report in as many weeks from someone claiming they sent a Google phone in for repair, only to be used to leak their private data and photos. They posted a detailed report of the situation on Twitter today and advised other users not to send their phones in for repair to the company.

In October, McGonigal sent her broken Pixel 5a to an official Pixel repair center in Texas for repair. McGonigal later tweeted that Google said it never received the phone and that it had to pay for a replacement device in the following weeks.

But according to McGonigal, the device’s FedEx tracking information shows it arrived at the facility weeks ago. Late last night — a few hours after she says she’s finally received a refund for the device — someone appears to have used the “missing” phone to clear two-factor authentication checks and log into several of her accounts, including hers. Dropbox, Gmail and Google Drive.

The activity triggered several security alerts by email to McGonigal’s backup accounts. However, whoever has the phone may have used it to access her backup email addresses and then dumped any security warnings into her spam folder.

“The photos they opened were of me in bathing suits, sports bras, figure-hugging dresses and stitches after surgery,” McGonigal writes. “They removed Google security notices in my backup email accounts.”

In a statement emailed to: The edgeGoogle spokesperson Alex Moriconi said: “We are investigating this claim.” It’s still unclear whether the device was intercepted at the repair facility or in transit, or who has it now. google’s official repair instructions recommend backing up a device and then erasing it before sending it in. Still, as Jane McGonigal points out, depending on the damage, that’s either difficult or impossible.

The whole situation reminds us of the security concerns when we blindly hand our devices over for repair, and unfortunately, such activity has a precedent. In June, Apple paid a woman millions after repair technicians posted her nude photos to Facebook. That company recently said it would start selling do-it-yourself repair kits, giving you the chance to fix your phone yourself, or at least let someone you trust do the job, rather than ship it or drop off at an Apple Store.

For Pixel phones, your options for official service are either via mail-in or, in some countries, local service through an authorized provider. In the United States, Google partners with: uBreakiFix franchises. Whatever you choose, it takes a certain amount of confidence to give up your phone, whether it’s over the counter or shipped hundreds of miles away.