Cell phone repair shop needs my password; how can I protect my information?

August 1, 2017

Dear Consumer Ed:

I took my cell phone to the repair shop because the screen was broken. They said they needed my password to unlock the phone and make the repair. I’m concerned about all of my information being exposed like that. How can I protect my information and still get my phone fixed?

Consumer Ed says:

There are several ways you can protect your information while getting your cell phone screen repaired. To absolutely ensure your data is secure, save the data from your phone to your computer, then erase the data from your phone and restore it to its factory settings before taking it to the repair shop. You can easily restore your data and settings by plugging your phone into your computer to restore it once it is returned to you. You can learn more about how to back-up an iPhone at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203977 and about how to restore an iPhone at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204184. If you have an Android, you can learn more about how to back-up and restore your phone at https://support.google.com/nexus/answer/2819582?hl=en.

If your cell phone has a SIM card, you can remove the SIM card and keep it with you while your phone is being repaired. This will protect all the data that is stored on your phone’s SIM card while your phone is at the repair shop.

It is also important to ask the repair shop employees why they need your password. If the repair shop needs your password to make sure the repair works properly, tell the employee you will enter your password when you pick up your phone. If the repair shop needs your password to repair your phone, you have a couple of options. If the repair is not going to take a long time, you can wait at the repair shop and enter your password yourself when the employee needs it. If you cannot wait for your phone to be repaired, you can give the repair shop your cell phone number and ask the employee to call you if he or she needs your password while repairing your phone. If the employee calls, ask for a detailed explanation of why your password is needed while you are talking to the employee, and only tell the employee your password if you feel that he or she legitimately needs it.

You should also ask a repair shop employee whether the repair shop guarantees data safety or look through your contract with the repair shop to see if it ensures the safety of your data while it is in the shop’s care. 

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