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The Truth Behind the Google Pixel Account Ban

Google isn't kidding around when it comes to its terms of sale. This week the internet giant cracked down on Pixels being resold at a mark-up by locking down the Google accounts of the offending sellers. Google has since relented, but it's important reminder to be aware of what exactly you're agreeing to when you accept a company's terms.

Is a quick buck really worth losing your Google account?

Is a quick buck really worth losing your Google account?

It's a lesson many people learned the hard way this week. According to Dan’s Deals, a bargain-finding site, a number of people bought Pixel smartphones from Google's Project Fi wireless service, before turning around and selling those same devices through a New Hampshire reseller. Because there's no sales tax in New Hampshire, the phones could be resold at a profit.

MORE: Google Pixel Review: Taking Android to New Heights

But that's a no-no, according to Google's terms of service which "prohibit the commercial resale of deices purchased through Project Fi or the Google Store," a spokesperson told us. When it discovered the violation, Google reportedly tracked down the original accounts tied to each phone and locked them down. This meant affected users were essentially banned from accessing their own Google accounts and were unable to log into services such as Gmail, Google Photos and others, no matter what device they were using.

Dan's Deals said that more than 200 people got locked out of their Google accounts.

When we asked Google to comment on the situation a spokesperson told us that many of the suspended accounts "were created for the sole purpose of this scheme, but since some customers were not aware of these Terms of Sale and are now locked out of many Google services they rely on, we're restoring access to these customers' accounts."

Google argues that it puts these terms in to place to give everyone "an equal opportunity to purchase devices at a fair price." That's an admirable goal, even if the company's initial response seemed a bit extreme.

If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's that you should familiarize yourself with any terms and conditions of a purchase and not violate those terms to chase a quick buck — especially when that puts digital data like emails and photos at risk.