Whether you just drove off the lot or your car is on its last legs, junkyard identity theft is a threat you — and every car owner — should always have in the back of your mind. Why?
The typical junkyard isn’t exactly “high security.”
Whether you donate your old car to charity or sell it to a scrap dealer, you can’t be completely sure where it’ll end up. Chances are its destination won’t be heavily guarded, closely monitored or carefully screened. Some junkyards may require visitors to pay a small fee to enter. Others may be completely open and free. Point is, there’s a reason it’s called a “junk” yard, but…
Your trash may be a treasure to someone.
Even if you don’t see much value in your car any more, those looking for cheap car parts or scrap metal may disagree. Identity thieves may too. So,
Before you get rid of your car, treat it like a rental car you’re returning.
Scour everything. Clean out the glove compartment, empty backseat pockets and leave no cushion unturned — you’d be amazed at what thieves can piece together with just a few scraps. An old receipt stuck between the seats or an insurance document left on the floor may be the missing piece a thief needs to complete your identity puzzle.
Even if you have a new car or it isn’t yet showing wear and tear, don’t let your guard down.
Just because your car is in great shape doesn’t mean you should ignore this threat because your car could end up anywhere at any time.
• What if it gets stolen?
• What about a quick double-parking job gone wrong?
• What about unpaid parking tickets you thought you paid?
• Where would it go if you or someone else driving it got in an accident?
Bottom line: You’ll always need to have your license and registration when you’re driving, but avoid keeping unnecessary documents and other personally identifiable information in your car. It’s easy to throw stuff in the backseat and worry about it later, but, when in doubt, secure it in your home. Hey, if nothing else, this is a good reason to keep your car clean!
Cyberthieves will be coming soon to a junkyard near you.
Far from the next hot science fiction plot, the threat of “junkyard cybertheft” is right around the corner. As cars coming standard with GPS navigation, smartphone integration, and other digital wonders get older and older, owners should be increasingly worried about any data stored in them.
It isn’t crazy to start thinking about how to wipe your car’s hard drive or encrypt your vehicle.
No precaution is foolproof, but there is a new technology that can help you keep your credit safe wherever your car’s final resting place may be. With TransUnion, Equifax and Experian’s Credit Lock, all it takes to prevent a criminal from getting their hands on your credit report is a single touch — a click of the mouse at home or smartphone swipe on the go.
Keeping your credit report locked won’t help you keep your car secure, but it’ll give you peace of mind regardless of who ends up behind what’s left of your old set of wheels.
Just so you know, I test the Bluetooth of every car I review, but ALWAYS delete my information before turning them back in. Usually, I see two or more journalists info on the cars screen.