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Officials warn of dangers to syncing your phone to car

OKLAHOMA CITY – When traveling for the holidays, experts say a convenience might actually put your information at risk.

AAA Oklahoma says drivers should think twice before syncing their phones to a car’s infotainment system. Syncing your phone allows you to make hands-free calls, texts, stream music and browse the web, but officials warn that your personal information stored on your phone may also be shared.

“Drivers need to be prudent about their personal info; this goes beyond identity theft into the realm of personal safety,” said Leslie Gamble, public affairs manager with AAA Oklahoma. “Every car system is different, and prior to syncing a device to a vehicle, motorists need to be aware of the risks.”

Officials warn that if you sync your phone to a rental car, hand your keys to a valet or trade in your car, you open yourself up to having personal information stolen.

“Treat the information stored in your car—or rental car—with the same discretion you give to your checkbook, cell phone, and birth certificate,” Gamble said.

AAA Oklahoma says the system could store:

  • Home address, work address and other frequently used GPS locations
  • Your home phone number
  • Your call and message logs
  • Personal contacts
  • Text messages
  • Garage opener programming.

To protect your information:

  • Check your phone’s permissions to learn what information your car can access. Also, try restricting the system to only what is necessary.
  • Before handing your keys over to a valet, check to see if your car has a ValetMode to protect sensitive data.
  • When renting a car, use the cigarette lighter adapter port to charge it instead of a USB because it doesn’t access your information.
  • Before trading in your car or returning a rental car, go to the settings menu on the car’s infotainment system to find a list of synced devices. When you find your device, delete it.
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