Who doesn’t love renting a car with all of the bells and whistles in it? And let’s face it, todays cars are loaded with them aren’t they?
Navigation systems, hands-free calls and texts, streaming music and yes, even web browsing, are part of all of the neat “toys” that most cars come equipped with, to include rental cars.
But did you ever stop to wonder what happens when you connect your phone to a rental car? When you use the car’s infotainment systems, it can store personal information that is on your phone. It may also keep locations entered in the GPS or visited while you’re renting the car like where you work and where you live.
Connecting a mobile device exposes you to the car keeping your mobile phone number, call and message logs, and, quite possibly, your contacts and text messages. If you do not delete that data prior to returning your car, other people may be able to view it, including future renters and employees of the rental car company and yes, even hackers.
If you do decide to rent a car that has an infotainment system in it, here are a few steps you can take to prevent that information from being compromised:
- Avoid connecting your mobile phones or other devices to the infotainment system just for charging. It’s much safer to use the cars charging ports, instead of using the car’s USB port. Why? In some cases, the USB port may transfer data automatically when connected to your mobile device.
- Check your permissions on your mobile device. If you do decide to connect your device to the car, the infotainment system may present a screen that lets you specify which types of information you want accessed. Grant access only to the information that you think is necessary, even if all you are doing is playing music. Do not allow access to your contacts list in this instance.
- Delete your data from the infotainment system before returning the car. Go in to the infotainment system’s settings menu to find a list of devices that have been paired to the car. Locate your device and follow the prompts to delete it. Not sure how to do that? The owner’s manual and rental car company should have more information about how to delete your data.
The best way to protect your data on your mobile devices while renting a car, is simply not to connect to the car’s infotainment system at all. Instead, listen to the radio or use a navigation app installed on your mobile device for your driving directions.