I’m conflicted. I don’t know if the title of this post should be “Security Gaps” discovered after losing my smartphone. First let me say I take full responsibility for leaving my phone in my Lyft. On a whim I decided to catch a Lyft to West Springfield, one town over to to see the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it was my birthday and I needed to take a break from my business plan….but before they could make it to the bottom of the ocean floor, I realized I didn’t have my rather heavy Blackview Bv9800pro in my pocket. I left it in my Lyft and about 10 minutes later it was turned off in Holyoke, MA. So either the next passenger discovered it, or the driver thought it was a tip. In any event, the phone which was fully charged went offline.
Now, it’s customary for Lyft to call the driver and for a fee the driver returns said phone and I’m charged $15. Yes, this has happened before, twice in my 3 year as a Lyft customer. Last time, Lyft was responsive and they contacted the driver who returned it back promptly, this driver has been contacted multiple times and refuses to respond.
This would all be an L (a loss for those of my generation unfamiliar with the newspeak) but I had Google Authenticator on the phone and although it’s password protected, I scrambled to do damage control because my mission critical operations are on that phone. When I called Mint, the next day…because no they don’t have 24/7 support. Turns out…MintMobile is NOT a professional grade cellular service. I was initially informed that I couldn’t get a replacement SIM for 3-5 days. I said: “Great, I’m sure the thief will be happy to know that.” I was on chat with them for 70 minutes trying to get into my account from the Xfinity store, I kid you not, they asked me to verify my “friends and family information” to get back into my account. I said: “I’m hurt, because I have no friends and family. But I presume if you have THEIR information you have access to my account and you can confirm mine.” It went on for over an hour. They said: “Sir we do this for your protection.” (a favorite line of despots) I responded: “How is my phone being safely activated in the hands of a thief, but I can’t access my account keeping me safe.” He responded: “We can deactivate your account here.” I responded: “And all the tech chats I had, and in all this time you didn’t think to tell me that?!” Lesson 1: MintMobile is not for professionals. Lesson 2 (which should be one): Triple check yo sh*t before you leave your Lyft or Uber.
I’ve written extensively how once I realized I had no phone and it was now night and I was stranded 11 miles from home, walking on a cane…on my birthday. I can go on about how Cinemark managers acted like they were bringing humanity fire by giving me a few numbers that do not work. I realized also that no young people working in the theater used Facebook, they looked at me like they’ve never heard of the app. When I asked people for assistance they turned their noses up like I was spoiled fish. Culture shock…I’m getting older, and society is far less compassionate. I stood there thinking, then in the distance I saw the purple lights of a PVTA bus, I wouldn’t have to walk home 5.5 miles with a cane and a bad back. Lesson 2: People suck and won’t help you. I made my way over to the CVS, I asked the girl…literally, a girl working there. “Do you have a phone book?” She looks at me: “A phone boo…” I said: “Yes, a book made of paper and it’s filled with numbers and is sometimes yellow.” After speaking to a supervisor who reluctantly googled an Uber number for me, a number where I could call to order an Uber ride by phone. “I’m safe!” I call the Uber number and of course, they only operate during limited daytime hours. Lesson 3: DON’T Rely on Uber or Lyft in a life or death situation. For companies that make so much money they have little in the way of support for customers. Lesson 4: All cab companies are out of business in Western MA.
Lesson 5: It was December 1st and THANK BABY JESUS, PVTA had free rides in December. I had to wait an hour for a bus and 80 minutes at the station, but I did not freeze with a middl-aged snarl on my face. Lesson 6: You can always rely on the kindness of strangers. (I would like to take a pause and feel the relief of the pen. I really do love writing, because people never count on hearing about their failures…and they assume these things will get swept under the rug and never see the light of day. By writing about them, if nothing more than for the benefit of posterity, I feel some justice has been served. I digress)
The highlight of my birthday was, aside from not freezing to death or being abducted. Was meeting good people on the bus. I’m always amazed by the love and humanity of the supposed “lessers” of our society. I thought, “My type of people are those that ride the bus.” Here there are no airs, no “better than thous”…just people making their way. I saw hugs, smiles, laughter and far too many young people zombied out behind the flicker of their smartphones, fingers gliding across glass and beneath glassy eyes. I felt safer on that bus surrounded by these people looking out for each other than I had in the longest time. More lessons to come.
Lyft not responding, the driver not responding, people not responding. I see a pattern here. It begs the question, are we using technology or is technology using us? So I went to restore my accounts, most of them were restored with no problem, except Instagram.
Lesson 7: Instagram is not a professional grade service. There, I said it. Initially I could restore my three mission critical accounts, Then it asked me to do 2FA again. Makes no sense, does it? So I tried it again. They ask if my face is in my Instagram profile. I check the box and it fails for all three of my accounts. Now I know like I know my face is ALL OVER these accounts. Not only is my face deeply embedded on dozens and dozens and years worth of posts. But my name, my phone, my websites are also clearly displayed, but Instagram wants to scan my face, so I turn my head side-to-side, up and down about a dozen times and each time. and all I got was an email for my three most important accounts which said: “Your information couldn’t be confirmed.”
Followed by: “You can submit a new video and we’ll review it again.” followed by a “Learn More.” link that sends you down a rabbit hole of circular FAQs with nobody at the bottom to meet you. At least Alice had companions.
No way to contact Meta. No way to contact Instagram. Out of luck. Now I do tend to catastrophize, and with good reason. I’ve lived a little. But if Meta can collect untold money from us from advertising on their platform, could they at the very least be able help us to retrieve our account without having to do a compulsory biometric scan? A scan that doesn’t work or is basing its decision on what? My profile picture or my videos? All I have on one account is video…but it’s matching pictures. Meta, this is far from professional. And Google, your Authenticator App is useless if all a thief has to do is acquire your phone?! WT….Oh, and Lesson 8: If you secure your email and your accounts with 2FA and get your phone stolen. You are shut out of your email and every account that uses your phone…which is EVERY account. There’s no opting out of this madness.
Now. This begs some important questions. Why are people so unhelpful? (Cinemark) Who is running the show at Instagram and what measures are in place for people like me who thought instagram was reliable and business class? I did learn on my quest to talk to a human, that Instagram is offering Business upgrades. But how can they do that when they can’t even help me into my accounts? Uber and Lyft, ya’ll burnt out. How you making all these millions with no plans for stranded passengers? The ONE thing I kept thinking was. What if I was a teenage girl by myself? Now granted, I am anything else. But It had me thinking that this is exactly the type scenario that places people in danger. No cab companies, you lose your phone and it becomes a matter of life and death, and I’m not exaggerating. And Ryan Reynolds, instead of sending photos of yourself to us on the holidays like it’s some special treat, perhaps you can think of a way for your customers to freeze stolen phones and get local SIM replacements in a manner of hours, not days. Until then…Ya basic!
Lesson 9: If you use 2FA, back up your 2FA codes, print them out and put them in a secret off-site undisclosed safe location. I have dozens of accounts and three days later I have been able to recover and secure most of my accounts, except for Instagram…because they don’t seem be professional grade. I’ll report back if they are able to get their act together, until then, proceed with extreme caution, and have all your contingency plans in order for the sake of your business, your data….and perhaps, even your life.
Sadly, many people die each year due to cellphones, being lost, stolen or altercations regarding missing phones, which may be a good reason to usher in the age of ambient phones! I think the phone industry should develop a solution to this problem as a creative Google News search string yields these horrific findings. Imagine all the people who go missing because of stolen cellphones each year?!
Search Google News for Cellphone related deaths and disappearances using this string: “missing cellphone” | “lost cellphone” +murdered | killed | beaten | missing. WARNING! Some of the stories are horrifying. Just…horrific. So, I have nothing worth complaining about. But companies and our government really do need to do something about this problem. Technology created this problem and technology can solve it.
Lyft’s Answer to my missing phone was a non-answer…they won’t even tell me if my driver, Jose…found my phone or not. Dead end. Good looks Lyft.
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Well, Surely I can recover my Instagram Accounts that were Protected by 2FA using Google Authenticator App…Right?
After all I have been on Instagram for 8 years of videos on my Metaactor account, and Senolytics is linked to my Facebook Page, and my Domain name is in my Trendsetic account! Should Be a No-Brainer, right? Wrong. Instead of verifying my informatin and ID like every other social media app or online company, Instagram is relying on a “Video Selfie” (ableist) app to scan you head. (yes, using your biometric data…without our consent) Way to go Meta. And get this. It DOESN’T WORK! There response is no better:
Here is one of my many attempts to get help from Meta/Instagram
Instagram AI Video Selfie Verification Does Not Work! And there are no humans to contact at the Meta-owned Company to recover our Mission-Critical Accounts
Here are my ongoing efforts to reach instagram, which often has to happen through buried “Report a Problem” fields limited to 500 characters within their app or web site. There is no feedback, no acknowledgement of receipt and no resolution. Now Instagram is offering business solutions, but they can’t even provide support to a loyal user of 8 years?!
Cell Phone lost on Dec 1, 2022, and my 2FA codes were not backed up, I assumed the process would be simple, like every other 2FA enabled social network, but Instagram has a compulsory biometric “AI Video Selfie” feature which supposedly scans our faces and verifies our identity. Sounds great, but it doesn’t work.
I’ve attempted to write Instagram several times since December 1st, but I’ve gotten no response, here are my latest attempts.
My video selfie is not working even though my account Metaactor is 8 years old and I have 1,800 posts. Senolytics is linked to my FB page of the same name and Trendsetic has a page under my name and my domain names are active in all of my profiles. facebook.com/trendsetic =trendsetic.com facebook.com/metaactor, and senolyticsshop.com and ALL have photos of me instagram.com/metaactor, instagram.com/trendsetic, instagram.com/senolytics My phone was stolen and I need 2FA turned off on these accts.
My phone has been stolen since my birthday on Dec 1st and 2FA was installed on this Metaactor (facebook.com/metaactor) and 2 other accounts, Trendsetic (after my business trendsetic.com) and Senolytics (for my other business facebook.com/Senolytics and senolyticsshop.com, which is also tied to my Facebook Page)
Even with 8 years of photos on Metaactor and my domains on the profile, and my emails linked. Face Video Selfie Verification DOES NOT WORK! No human to help?
We do our best to facilitate the return of lost items and help you connect with your driver.
We’ll also proactively check in with the driver so you’ll get your phone back. We’ll keep in touch with you.
All the best,