Just as standard cell phones have now become sophisticated, internet-toting mobile devices, the cars we drive now are much more than just a set of wheels getting passengers from point A to point B. Almost every modern automobile boasts an internet connection and a host of convenience features that not only make your commute easier than ever, but also records personal information about yourself that, if compromised by a criminal, could lead to identity theft.
While the automakers claim that all of the recent advances to vehicular technology is a result of consumer demand, and that the new gadgets help them better understand consumers and increase physical safety, they are also potentially creating unnecessary harm to drivers’ identities as a result.
In some cases, devices like GPS systems and other conveniences are as vulnerable to theft as a laptop or mobile device, since the same internet connectivity that can be hacked to compromise your hard drive is also fueling your car’s technology. As a result, the GPS that has your home address and location of your office encrypted on it can also be hacked into, allowing thieves to use this info to open up accounts in your name and leave you with the debt.
“Manufacturers do a poor job of informing consumers and explaining the privacy implications of new technology,” Khaliah Barnes of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a consumer group based in Washington, told the New York Times. “Often, that information is in the owner's manual, and when's the last time you thumbed through your owner's manual?”
Be sure you get all the information you can from your car’s dealer and manufacturer about all of the security features in your vehicle, and enlist in a credit monitoring service to ensure that you’ll be alerted to certain activity that could be an indicator of theft.