Your Newest Security Threat: Your Car

Did you know that you car’s infotainment system may be automatically downloading your mobile device’s data? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers to be aware that personal information stored in a vehicle’s infotainment system can tell the next person all sorts of things about you.*

When you connect to a car’s infotainment system, even just for charging, the USB connection that’s established may transfer data automatically from your mobile device to that system. A car’s infotainment system may keep a record of each GPS location you have entered or all the places you have traveled in that car. This might include your house, your work or family and friends’ locations. Other information such as your mobile phone number, telephone logs, message logs and even your contacts list or text message could be collected by the infotainment system from your device as well. It is safer to charge your mobile device by using a charger that fits in the car’s cigarette lighter instead of connecting to the infotainment system’s USB port.

This information issue applies to any newer-model rental car or borrowed car that an individual has operated. This could be a personally-owned car, an officer’s car that the bank is selling or even a repossessed car. Availability of this information to the next driver of the vehicle could be a concern — particularly with a rental car that is used over and over by many people, or an automobile dealer’s regular “loaner” car that you use while yours is being repaired.

Now that you know a car may be transferring your information, do you know how to delete this data? Depending on the system, a car’s infotainment system may show you a screen that lets you indicate what types of information you want the system to access. Whenever you have options to control the privacy of your information, always choose options that will only give the infotainment system the level of access necessary to carry out the functions you actually want to use. If you just want to play music, don’t give the system permission to access your contacts list.

Check the infotainment system’s settings menu to see a list of devices that have been paired with the system before returning a rental car or selling a car. Locate your device and follow instructions on how to delete that device. The owner’s manual for the vehicle should give you more information on how to delete your data. If it’s a rental car, ask the car rental company for help if there’s no owner’s manual.

You can take similar steps to delete anyone’s personal information from the infotainment system when the bank is selling an officer’s car, a repossessed car or you are selling a personally owned vehicle. This prevents information that may be considered personal and confidential from becoming available to a buyer, the persons working on a car lot, persons test-driving the used vehicle or the next owner of the car.

For more information, contact BankOnIT at 800-498-8877, option 2, or at

*What Is Your Phone Telling Your Rental Car?”