What does your car know about you?

smartphone texting and driving demonstration

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) – High tech features in new cars are almost as important as gas mileage for some drivers. But when you connect your smartphone, what happens to all of your personal information?

Bluetooth systems allow you to pair your phone, import your contacts, stream your music, and talk “hands free” while behind the wheel.

Appleton internet security and privacy consultant Curt Esser says consumers are attracted to vehicle technology, but they don’t always consider the downside.

“The older Bluetooth systems that are out there, there is a risk,” Esser says.

In a new warning, the Federal Trade Commission highlights this security concern–especially in rental cars. The warning instructs drivers to delete all data so it’s not left behind for the next driver–or a hacker.

“I wouldn’t rely on the rental car agency or dealership that you trade in your car to do this for you,” says Susan Bach, Better Business Bureau. “You are your own best advocate to watch over your privacy.”

Esser says there are are certain steps you must take to get rid of that data.

“They really need to do a factory reset, get all of the data out of there, and also make sure the favorites they might have programmed in there are removed as well,” Esser says.

However, not all vehicles will save and store your information.

“The newer systems, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, those systems are a little more secure, a little safer,” Esser says. “Those are considered projection systems. They’re not really collecting the data. When you separate the device, in theory, it’s gone.”

If there’s a navigation system, you could be sharing your driving history. That’s a concern when you trade in your car. Esser warns against setting a “home” location on the GPS as to not give potential criminals your exact address.

“Maybe what they want to do instead of being so exact, right to the front door, maybe put in the neighborhood, be a little more vague,” Esser says.

If you want this convenience on the road but don’t want someone driving away with your information, take time to disconnect and delete.

For more tips about car connectivity and protecting your information, click here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/what-your-phone-telling-your-rental-car