COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Many of us take the proper steps to protect our personal information from hackers in this digital day and age, in the form of passwords, passcodes and multifactor authentication.

But how do you protect yourself from being hacked when it comes to Bluetooth?

One central Ohio woman sent this message to Better Call 4: “Does the information on your phone after you have connected it to a car via Bluetooth remain on the car’s system? Can it then be hacked or scraped? Should we be concerned about connecting to rental cars?”

Those are the questions I posed to cybersecurity expert, Nick Powers.

“When you rent a car, the first thing you do is you want to pair your cellphone with the car. And that’s okay, but one of the options that pops up is ‘Do you want to allow the car to download all of your contacts?’ Since this is a temporary situation, I would highly recommend you do not allow that car to accept all of your contacts,” said Powers.

“If you leave all that on there, especially if you decide to upload your contacts, anybody could come in after you and have access to that information. When you’re done renting that car, you need to take the time, and a great time to do that is that last stop you make when you’re filling it up with gas before returning the car… take the time at that gas station to erase your number, and all of the information related to your cellphone off of that rental car,” Powers said.

It may not be considered “hacking,” but rather “scraping,” like our viewer suggested. And it’s not just your contacts. As Powers alluded to, lots of information can be saved when you connect your phone to a car, including:

  • GPS history
  • In-car internet search history
  • Music-streaming logins
  • Call log and text messages
  • Wi-Fi identifiers, including your home network

Also, make sure you ask the rental company upfront whose responsibility it is to disconnect your device, because they may not be on the hook for it.