Hooking up your phone to your car’s Bluetooth is incredibly convenient. Instead of having to handle your device while you’re at a red light or trying to drive, your Bluetooth allows you to make phone calls and play music with the push of a few car buttons. It displays directions prominently and can even remember your regular routes so that you needn’t even plug in addresses.
Sounds pretty great?
For the most part, it is. But this is the scary mistake you’re making when you connect your iPhone to your car’s Bluetooth.
The fact that Bluetooth helps your car remember private information about you can raise red flags, but the likelihood that your car will fall into the wrong hands and people can access that info is probably quite small (knock on wood).
But there’s one time when you should not use your car’s Bluetooth — when you are driving around in a rental car.
A phone connected to Bluetooth in the car actually stores quite a bit of sensitive information. This includes:
Recent call log
Recent text messages
Garage door opener code
List of contacts
GPS data that includes your home address
Given how much private information gets stored in a car when your phone connects to its Bluetooth, it makes total sense that using it in a rental car is a bad idea. “According to a report from Privacy International, most major rental-car companies have no policies to delete sensitive information that is collected during a rental once a user returns the car. You may have experienced this yourself if you’ve ever picked up a rental and find that the device information of the last 10 renters was still stored in the vehicle. That means, if you were to sync your own phone, the next renter would have your information at their fingertips.”
Another potentially dangerous situation can occur when your Lyft or Uber driver is generous enough to let you pair your phone with their car. What may sound great in the moment — listening to your own tunes during that drive — still means that, when that ride is over, your info has been stored in an unfamiliar car.
Play it safe and never pair your device to Bluetooth in a rental car, Lyft, or any other car that isn’t yours. And play it even safer by deleting your info from time to time (yep, even from your own car).