Becoming the CEO of Your Personal Life - A Personal Insurance Series: Connected Cars: A Gateway to Your Identity and Cyber Life - Parker, Smith & Feek – Business Insurance | Employee Benefits | Surety – Northwest & Beyond

Becoming the CEO of Your Personal Life –
A Personal Insurance Series: Connected Cars: A Gateway to Your Identity and Cyber Life

Parker, Smith & Feek's Private Client Group Article Series

Private Client Group

When it comes to risk management and insurance, it’s important to apply your business best practices to your personal life as well. All too often, we overlook assessing our risks and updating our insurance when we make lifestyle changes, grow our wealth, and add (or delete) valuable assets. In this series, we will discuss common sense steps that you can take to be an effective CEO of your personal life.

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.

When You Rent a Car

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.

  • Your device name, combined with a little social media research for your profile, can reveal your identity.
  • Your address book and contact information often download when you sync.
  • Use of the infotainment system can expose your logins for streaming services.
  • Your in-car call log and text messages may be saved.
  • Your in-car internet search history may be retained.
  • The GPS navigation history may reveal your locations, including your home address. If your garage code is saved in your device, someone could have all the information needed access your home.

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.

  • If you are only using the USB to charge your device, opt for a cigarette lighter adapter instead.
  • If you are given options when you sync, limit permissions as much as possible. If you are not going to make hands-free calls, why permit access to your contacts and address book?
  • Forego use of the car’s navigation system in favor of Google Maps on your phone.

When You Sell or Trade in a Car

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:

  • Delete your garage code. Hold the first and third buttons down simultaneously until the light blinks.
  • Cancel (or transfer to your replacement auto) all apps and subscription services, such as SiriusXM Radio.
  • Remove any dongles and third-party plug-ins. These devices are typically used to share car or driving information, such as with your auto insurer.

There’s an App for This!

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 Private Client Group at Parker, Smith & Feek is dedicated to risk management and insurance solutions for our clients. As part of our concierge level service, we produce and share important risk management information—from life safety and disaster preparedness to auto and home protection—for our clients and the community.
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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.