Wallet or purse, check; suitcase, check; briefcase, check; smartphone and charging cord, check; PII, huh? The last thing you should do before you step out of the rental car and return the keys to the customer service representative is make sure you have all of your valuables in hand, and that includes your personally identifiable information (PII).
Connecting your smart phone to your rental car, either via Bluetooth or USB port to play music, make a phone call or charge the battery, etcetera, may result in the download and retention of your PII. The car’s entertainment system can store the contents of your smartphone including your cellphone number and location data. It may also collect and store call logs, contacts you dialed and text messages.
This information, your PII, is sitting in the rental car’s memory waiting for someone to tap into it; the next renter, a hacker, or a less than scrupulous rental car employee. It is the individuals’ responsibility to delete their data and the data from any other passenger who connects their devices when they return the rental car. Be as smart as your phone when you drop off the rental car by taking simple steps to protect your PII:
- A USB connection may transfer data automatically, use a cigarette lighter adapter instead to power and charge devices.
- If your rental car is equipped, grant access to just the information you want to reveal by using the rental car’s permission screen.
- Delete your PII from the car’s system. There should be an option to remove your phone from the list of paired devices, which should wipe call logs and remove contacts.
- Remember to erase your location history from the car’s navigation system by entering the settings and clearing your driving record.
- Your rental car may have an option to clear all user data or do a factory reset. Talk to a staff member or check online before you drive away in your rental, you may forget or be in a hurry at the end of your trip.
Technology is a boon to everyday life and can make your trip easier and safer, but remember to clean-up after each trip by removing your PII from your rental car to better protect your privacy and identity.