Protect Your Personal Info When You Rent A Car

3 min read
May 18, 2020

Connecting your phone to a rental car could put your identity at risk.

You made it through the first leg of your journey and picked up your rental car. You’re excited to get on the road. You synch up your phone, make a hands-free call, and then start the playlist you created for this trip. You enter in your destination address and plug your phone into the USB port to charge it.

But have you ever thought about the risks of connecting your smartphone or other device to a rental car?

What Info Could be Stolen?

You probably don’t think twice about synching your smartphone to your own car because you and your family are the only ones who have access to it. But connecting your phone or other device to a rental car allows the system to potentially transfer your personal information to the rental car.

Some of what could be transferred and saved includes:

  • Your contacts
  • Your phone number
  • Your calendar
  • Music-streaming log-in info
  • Call logs, text messages, and emails
  • GPS navigation history
  • Code to open your garage door

How to Reduce Your Risk

Your information isn’t going to be stolen as soon as you plug your phone into the car. It’s more a matter of taking steps to protect it.

  • If you are only connecting to charge your device, it’s best to use a cigarette lighter adapter and bypass the infotainment system altogether. Also, beforehand, you can check what permissions you have set on your phone to see what information you are allowing it to share.
  • If you do plug into the infotainment system, make sure to take the time to check what you are agreeing to share if it’s an option on the screen as you plug in.
  • Finally, make a point to delete your personal info from the system when it’s time to return the car. You can go to the settings menu to see the list of devices that have been paired with the system. (You might even find the previous renters’ information! Be a good neighbor and delete their information too.) Find your phone or other device, and follow the steps to delete it from the system. If you have any problems, check the owner’s manual or with the rental car company.

Nothing in these materials is intended to be advice for a particular situation or individual. These materials are for general information purposes only.