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May 12, 2020
Cars are computers on wheels and it’s important to know how they can compromise your identity and security. This is especially true for rentals and autos that you sell or trade in.
Rental cars download information when you sync your devices. Most companies do not delete the information when you return the car, which means it can be accessed by future renters, rental company personnel, or hackers. The major concerns include the use of Bluetooth, USB plug-ins, and navigation systems — all of which can expose your personally identifiable information (PII) and other private information.
Rental companies are not required to delete information between rentals. It is your responsibility to do so, which can be difficult or time consuming if you are not familiar with the car. You will need to work your way through the car’s settings or refer to the owner’s manual (if it is in the glovebox). It may take multiple steps to delete all your information, both downloaded and in the navigation system.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk.
Your goal is to make sure that your identity and cyber security don’t go with the car. The owner’s manual should include instructions on how to do a factory reset. Be sure to:
Privacy4Cars is a mobile app that simplifies the process of clearing your personal information and history. Ironically, the target market is auto businesses — rental companies and car sales — that seldom take on the task. So, it is a good resource for individuals who need to do it themselves. The app is designed to quickly erase all personal data stored within the auto’s technology. You can search by year, make, and model, or simply input the car’s VIN. The app will then give you step-by-step-visual instructions, making it less likely that you will miss something when you return a rental or sell an auto.
The views and opinions expressed within are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Parker, Smith & Feek. While every effort has been taken in compiling this information to ensure that its contents are totally accurate, neither the publisher nor the author can accept liability for any inaccuracies or changed circumstances of any information herein or for the consequences of any reliance placed upon it.