Renting a car with all the latest bells and whistles – like web browsing and hands-free texting – is fun, but you could be exposing personal information warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
When you use a connected rental car’s infotainment system, it may store locations you entered in GPS or visited while travelling such as where you work or live.
Additionally, connecting a mobile device could expose even more information such as your phone number, call and message logs, and even contacts.
Unless you delete all that data before returning the rental, other people may view it, including future renters and rental car employees or even hackers, according to the FTC attorney Lisa Weintraub Schifferle.
To reduce the exposure of your data when renting a car, here are some steps the FTC recommends you can take:
- Avoid connecting your mobile phones or devices to the infotainment system just for charging. Use a cigarette lighter adapter to charge devices instead of the car’s USB port. Why? In some cases, the USB connection may transfer data automatically.
- Check your permissions. If you do connect your device to the car, the infotainment system may present a screen that lets you specify which types of information you want the system to access. Grant access only to the information you think is necessary.
- Delete your data from the infotainment system before returning the car. Go into the infotainment system’s settings menu to find a list of devices that have been paired with the system. Locate your device and follow the prompts to delete it. The owner’s manual and the rental car company may have more information about how to delete your data.