What is your phone telling your rental car?

When I rent a car, it’s fun to get all the bells and whistles – like navigation, hands-free calls and texts, streaming music and even web browsing. But did you know that cars with these features might keep your personal information, long after you’ve returned your rental car? Here are some things to keep in mind when renting a connected car.

What happens when you rent a connected car? When you use the car’s infotainment system, it may store personal information. It may keep locations you entered in GPS or visited when travelling in the rental car – like where you work or live. 

If you connect a mobile device, the car may also keep your mobile phone number, call and message logs, or even contacts and text messages. Unless you delete that data before you return the car, other people may view it, including future renters and rental car employees or even hackers.

If you decide to rent a connected car, here are some steps you can take to protect your personal information:

  • Avoid connecting your mobile phones or devices to the infotainment system just for charging. It’s safer to use a cigarette lighter adapter to charge devices, instead of the car’s USB port. Why? In some cases, the USB connection may transfer data automatically.  
  • Check your permissions. If you do connect your device to the car, the infotainment system may present a screen that lets you specify which types of information you want the system to access. Grant access only to the information you think is necessary – if you just want to play music, for example, you don’t need to okay access to your contacts.
  • Delete your data from the infotainment system before returning the car. Go into the infotainment system’s settings menu to find a list of devices that have been paired with the system. Locate your device and follow the prompts to delete it. The owner’s manual and the rental car company may have more information about how to delete your data.

Want to learn more about how your personal information is shared and used every day? Watch this short video.



Interesting info.

Why can I not view any of your videos? This one, like most, says: "The video is bad or in a format that cannot be played on your browser Error Code: Media_Err_Decode"

I can’t say for sure what is wrong, but it sounds like you may need to upgrade your browser. In the meantime, you can access our videos on the FTC’s YouTube channel. For the video in this blog post, please watch, Sharing Information: A Day in Your Life. Hope this helps.

Very useful info,f.t.c:) thank you.

Thank you for supplying such great information! I will re-post this.

This happened to me 4 years ago, and I have had terrible, terrible problems since then. Thank you for informing others.

Thank you so much for the information and continue to do amazing work.

Thank You did not know how easy info can be shared or sold. Its an awareness tip too always keep in mind.

Very helpful, thanks

OMG that is really scary. I never would have realize how much of me is out there and who has Me! Terrible, Scary, I really do not feel okay about this at all. Thank you for all the information I'm surely going to change a lot of things. Thanks again I'm speechless


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