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Your car could put your privacy at risk


Are you thinking of selling or trading in your vehicle? Beware. New cars are like computers on wheels and you need to wipe the data before you get rid of it. Otherwise, your privacy could be at risk.

Start erasing the data the old-fashioned way. Check the trunk and glove box, and look under the seats for any valuables, loose change and paperwork.

“So we used a diaper box, and got all of our stuff out of the car -- got it pseudo-detailed. We got ‘the works’ at a car wash,” said vehicle owner Mike Trapasso.

Before handing over the keys to a new owner, clean out the internal computer too.

“Kind of like a phone, as you use the car, it’s logging data about what features you access and it logs addresses you’ve been to. And now there are even things like Wi-Fi hotspots, where you like to log in and all these different connected features you need to remember to log out of before you sell the car,” explained Alex Knizek, Consumer Reports auto expert.

Make sure to delete Bluetooth connections, remove contacts saved on the car and then do the same thing within your phone. Delete or forget the pairing and the association of the phone and the vehicle.

In addition, do not forget to remove hardware, like your automatic garage door opener so the new driver cannot get into your garage after they find your home address stored in the navigation system, or found on stray paperwork. If you use a built-in system like HomeLink for your garage door, make sure to reset it.

“There’s also telematics services -- which connect you directly to automakers. There usually you can find an SOS or call button on the rearview mirror, or sometimes on the ceiling near the mirror, and those connect you to a live operator. And so you can press this button and they will help you remove the vehicle or remove yourself from the telematics account with the vehicle,” added Knizek.

You should also log out of any installed apps on your phone that let you connect to your car. Depending on the automaker, those apps could store driver data, navigation destinations and driving history. Top Stories

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