Vote for the Tech CARS Awards deadline is 1/31.

Why connected car renters should delete iPhone/smartphone, Bluetooth, GPS info

Neverlost6The FTC warns car renters who connect their iPhone or Android smartphone to rental cars to be careful and delete their data or use a USB charger in the 12 Volt port (formerly cigarette lighter).

If you connect a mobile device, the car may also keep your mobile phone number, call and message logs, or even contacts and text messages. Unless you delete that data before you return the car, other people may view it, including future renters and rental car employees or even hackers.

If you decide to rent a connected car, here are some steps you can take to protect your personal information:

  • Don’t connect your mobile phones or devices to the infotainment system just for charging. It’s safer to use a cigarette lighter adapter to charge devices, instead of the car’s USB port. In some cases, the USB connection may transfer data automatically.
  • 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 – if you just want to play music, for example, you don’t need to okay access to your contacts.
  • Be sure to 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.

We at AUTO Connected Car News would like to add, that when you connect with Bluetooth depending upon the infotainment system, the car may copy your contacts or keep a record of the numbers you called even if you didn’t connect by a wire to the vehicle. Make sure that your remove your Bluetooth connection and any other Bluetooth information. Hackers with your Bluetooth information could in certain cases hack your phone.

We also suggest that if you use the mapping GPS to drive home, to get help deleting the places you travelled. The car may reveal where you live or work.

After posting the information on the FTC website a reader commented that she was a victim of Hertz. Her rental car was stolen by someone who broke into her house. The GPS system probably had her address.