Your sensitive data could be at risk if you connect your smartphone or tablet to a rental car infotainment system via Bluetooth and USB. When you link your device, your information may be stored and read by others long after you have returned the vehicle.

You can help protect yourself by understanding the potential risks and safeguarding your data.

What information Is exposed?

When you connect your phone via Bluetooth and USB, the car stores the following:

  • Device name
  • Call log and text messages if you use hands-free calling
  • Address book
  • GPS and navigation history including routes and destinations
  • In-car internet search history
  • Music-streaming logins, such as Spotify or Pandora
  • WiFi identifiers

Clear the connection

Before you return the car, consider these steps that may help protect your privacy:

  1. Disconnect from the car in your phone’s wifi settings
  2. If your phone is connected via USB, unplug it (even if you only used it to charge your phone, your personal data could be saved)
  3. Disconnect your phone’s wifi pairing to the vehicle
    • Find the Bluetooth settings menu in the car’s infotainment system
    • Find the list of paired devices
    • Disconnect and delete any that belong to you
  4. Find the setting of the navigation system and delete the history
  5. Most infotainment systems have a factory reset option you can choose if you want to be sure that everything completely removed

Avoid the risk

Use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto apps. Both systems are encrypted, and there is less risk of data exposure.

If you’re concerned about potential data collection, the best way to avoid the risk is to not connect at all. Use your phone independently for calls and navigation.

The information used to create this flyer was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help the users address their own risk management and insurance need. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in natural; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side, and the Nationwide N and Eagle are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2020 Nationwide.