Cars have gone from being simply modes of transportation to rolling personal electronic devices. You wouldn’t resell your computer or smartphone with all of your personal information on it, shouldn’t your vehicle get the same treatment?
WFMY 2 News in Jacksonville, Fla., investigated what happens to personal information stored in vehicles when they make it back into a dealer’s hands. Taking a car off of a dealership lot and asking the GPS to navigate to ‘home’, the GPS gave directions to the home of Tim Jubito, only he no longer owned the car.
“I think that’s very bad to not have that cleared out when you trade in the vehicle. I would think when you trade that in, they would have that nulled on the vehicle, but undoubtedly, you’re telling me it’s not being done,” Jubito, told WFMY 2 News.
It’s not just the GPS car owners should be concerned about. Personal contact information is also often synced and stored within a vehicle, and personal text messages and calls can also be stored via Bluetooth technology in cars. Many cars also have automatic garage door openers synced within the vehicle. Add that feature to the GPS problem, and you’ve handed the new owner of your old vehicle the ability to break into your garage or home.
How can you protect your information? When reselling or trading in your vehicle ask the dealership what their policy is for removing personal data from onboard computers. If they don’t have any policy or process for doing so you can wipe personal information yourself from a vehicle.
Resetting the garage door opener can be as easy as pressing two buttons, and instructions should be found in the owner’s manual for each vehicle. You can ‘unpair’ a Bluetooth phone from a vehicle to remove contacts and messaging information. In a car’s touchscreen navigation there is often an option to return the onboard computer to factory settings, which will wipe out all personal settings and information in the vehicle.