You Probably Shouldn't Connect Your Smartphone To A Rental Car

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If given the option, it can be hard not to connect your smartphone to a rental car—especially when that’s what you’re used to in your own vehicle. But doing so could give others access to enough of your personal information to track you down at your own home and tell you what you did all week.

According to a blog post on the Federal Trade Commission’s website, connected rental cars have the ability to store information from user cellphones long after they’ve returned the vehicle. That seems pretty obvious once you read it, but it perhaps isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you feel the need to start up the handsfree features while driving in potentially unfamiliar locations.

Depending the features used in rental cars, they have the ability to store your phone number, contacts, call logs, messages and GPS locations. That all sounds wonderfully creepy, and people can access that information if a renter does so little as hook his or her phone up to the wrong plug in order to charge it.


The blog post suggested a few things to help keep rental cars from hanging onto user information, like plugging your phone into the less invasive outlet—the cigarette-lighter adapter rather than the USB port—and changing permissions on the phone once it connects to the car.

If the potential for countless people to know your business doesn’t deter you from connecting a phone, deleting data at the end of your time with the car is possible. But returning rentals—especially when traveling—can be a rushed process, so don’t count on remembering that one before you’re on a plane and headed thousands of miles away from the vehicle.


It sure is creepy to think about how much of your information is out there, isn’t it? What connected lives we live. Happy driving!