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Your old GPS could be telling your secrets

10:57 PM, May 20, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When trading in an old car, most people think to clear out your important paperwork from the glove box, get the golf clubs out of the trunk, and even tidy up a bit.

But there is one critical piece of information that owners are leaving behind and it could be used against car owners.

GPS provides a roadmap to your front door. And that's what led us to Tim Jubito.  

The directions were readily available from his wife's used Toyota Avalon that was sitting in a car lot for sale.

Her belongings were gone but her personal information was still stored in the GPS.

"I think that's very bad to have that not have that cleared out when you trade in the vehicle. I would think when you trade that in, they would have that nulled on the vehicle, but undoubtedly, you're telling me it's not being done," Jubito said.

In dealership after dealership we found the same thing.

Cars on the lot, cleaned up for sale, but not cleaned out of GPS information.

"It's because everybody's busy, and the focus is on making the sale," he said. Security Consultant Tyler Wildman said cleaning out old information isn't the dealership's top priority.

Wildman works with car dealerships to train their employees to protect against identity theft.

He said when it comes to your GPS, it's not just the address that people could use against you.

"If your destination of your home is saved in your GPS and your garage door remote is programmed into your car, that could be a recipe for disaster for anybody," said Wildman.

The keys to an old car could open up more than your home.

Many new GPS systems will sync any phone's contacts to the car's database.

And with so much information to remember, people aren't just keeping phone numbers in their contact lists.

"A lot of people save their kids social, or their birthday, and other personal information in their contacts, and they don't think about it when they trade in that car that address, name, birthday, maybe even a credit card could still be left in that contact database," Wildman said.

A GPS typically adds value to the sale of a used car but Wildman asks, how much is it really worth?

"It's convenience, but there's always that double-edged sword. On one hand there's convenience, on the other hand there's safety," he said.

For Tim Jubito, safety wins out every time.

"Now they know exactly where she's at, how to get right here, like you did. And it is scary because you never know what people are out there getting," Jubito said.

Don't rely on anyone else to wipe out the GPS data when you sell your car. You can do it, in just a matter of seconds. The easiest way is to reset the system.

Go into the main menu of the system, under settings, and it will give you the option to reset. Click the button to reset. It may ask you if you are sure, and you click "yes" one more time. This will erase your data, and send the GPS to its original factory settings.

Your owner's manual will also have complete instructions on how to erase your data.

WKYC-TV

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