BBB: Crooks can get your personal information from car Bluetooth

Consumer Alerts & Scams

When Michael Martin bought his SUV in December, he was surprised by all the “extras” that popped up when he connected to his vehicle’s computer using Bluetooth. 

Contact information for dozens of people– stored by the previous owner– was at his fingertips. 

“I was alarmed that it was in there with all that personal data, personal information,” Martin said. 

It’s the type of information the Better Business Bureau warns can make you a prime target for identity theft, especially when selling a used car or returning a rental. 

“Your address book, your text messages, voicemails, if you use Spotify or any sort of music streaming, your login is in there,” said Lisa Smith with the BBB serving Middle Tennessee. 

“The next person that gets in the car has access to all your personal information,” Smith said. 

Smith said the BBB has seen cases nationwide, hackers using information stored in a car’s memory that was never deleted. 

“I don’t think people even think to delete their information,” she said. 

Smith says most rental car companies don’t have policies to erase stored information. 

“They’re under no responsibility to the consumer to make sure the information is deleted, that’s all on you,” Smith said. 

She said when returning a rental or selling a used car, delete your device from the car’s Bluetooth system. 

“When you do that, all of your information is also deleted from the car,” Smith said. 

The step only takes seconds, but Smith says it can save you lots of time and money down the road. 

“Once your identity gets stolen, it’s a whole new ballgame,” Smith said. 

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