AAA warns drivers about dangers of syncing their phone to vehicles

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — What does your car know about you?

With so many stories about privacy breaches in the news, drivers should be aware of the risks that come with syncing phones to vehicles, says Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Syncing your phone to your vehicle’s infotainment system allows you to make hands-free calls and texts, stream music, and even browse the web, Tidwell said. But the system may store personal information kept on your phone, and the information is vulnerable to theft.

“If you trade in your car, sync your phone to a rental car, or hand your keys to a valet, you open yourself up to having your personal information stolen,” Tidwell said. “It is possible for an unauthorized person to gain access to your home address and access your garage door opener.”

AAA offers these tips to protect your information:

• When syncing your phone, if your infotainment system allows you to choose which types of information you share, restrict it to what’s necessary. For instance, if you’re only syncing your phone to play music, the car needs to access your music library only, not your personal contacts.

• Before handing your keys to a valet, check to see if your car has a Valet Mode for the infotainment system to protect your sensitive data.

• When renting a car, if you’re plugging your phone in to charge it, use the cigarette lighter adapter port (if you have the cable for it) instead of the USB, because that port doesn’t access your information. And use your phone’s GPS without syncing up with the rental car.

• Before trading in your car or returning a rental, go to the settings menu on the car’s infotainment system to find a list of synced devices. When you find your devices, follow the prompts to delete them. If you can’t figure out how to do this, check the owner’s manual or an online tutorial.

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By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.