Screen repair scam could invite hackers into your phone

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — More than 50 percent of smartphone users drop their phones and crack their screens, then rush to the store to get it fixed. Yet what percentage of these people know fixing the damage could be inviting a hacker into your device?

Those same people could be inviting a hacker back into their device.

It’s called the “chip in the middle attack”. Scammers are getting a hold of screen replacements and adding a spyware chip. The chip can track your fingers to steal passwords or any data you plug into your phone.

It can also send you to phishing websites. A recent study said hackers are specifically targeting people with Samsung devices, because they are more costly forcing people to find small, cheaper stores to get their phones replaced.

“The Samsung screens have a higher resolution,” said Jimmy Rogers, a technician at Fast Fone Repair.

“We just don’t see a lot of them,” said Rogers. “Just because you get an iPhone screen and you can do it for $100 then you get a Samsung screen and its upward to $200.”

The study says the cheaper the price, the greater risk of getting a hacked screen.

“The Samsung’s tend to get a little more difficult, the price is really your big difference.”

I talked with an employee at Fast Fone repair about steps they take to keep customer’s phone safe.

“All of our screens are from reputable dealers in the United States,” said Al Stone, managing partner at Fast Fone Repair. “We don’t do anything outside the United States. We can usually tell if they are a little different.”

Repair experts say besides staying away from small, unknown screen replacement shops, you should prevent damage by using a durable case.

“We do of course recommend tempered glass and definitely cases, protective cases,” said Stone.

While this scam has yet to hit eastern North Carolina,  the Better Business Bureau out of Raleigh said once it hits one part of the country, it can easily spread to the next.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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