Connected cars: How syncing your phone to vehicles could put your data at risk

Syncing your phone to your vehicle is a convenient feature for music and phone calls, but it is also putting your personal information at risk.

There are millions of connected vehicles on the roadways, but what you might not realize is that you are leaving behind your personal data even if your phone isn’t in the vehicle.

Rodney Cranford of Clayton said that his infotainment system is very convenient.

He can call his contacts even when he doesn’t have his phone, which means his data is being stored in the vehicle.

“Anybody close enough can probably tap into my system and get all of my personal information,” he said. “That would be scary.”

But it’s not just your contacts that stick around after syncing according to AAA’s Cindy Antrican.

“Your calendar, you garage door opener code — it leaves behind things that you don’t want to leave behind,” said Antrican.

Vehicles may also save text messages, call logs and GPS data.

Antrican said the biggest risks are when you valet your vehicle or sync your phone to a rental car.

“When you return a rental car — everyone does it — you take a quick look around to make sure you haven’t left anything behind,” Antrican said. “Don’t leave your data behind.”

According to AAA, you can protect yourself by not using USB ports or syncing to rented vehicles.

Use your phone settings to restrict what your vehicle can access or delete your already synced phone.

“I’m going to get with the dealership to see if there’s something else I can do with the system to make sure all my information isn’t going in there,” Cranford said.

If you still have questions about personal information being left behind in your infotainment system, be sure to contact your dealership or manufacturer.

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