Modern cars know a lot about you – where you’ve been, where you live, who you’ve phoned and who you’ve emailed. At the heart of all this lies our personal data, so if your car is written off after an accident, what happens to that data? SYNETIQ, the UK’s leading integrated salvage, dismantling and recycling company, is warning the industry to be extra vigilant with the disposal of data, to reduce the risk of identity fraud.
“Cases of identity theft have risen by a third over the last five years, increasing by a staggering 32%,” says Anna Reade, SYNETIQ’s Client Relationship Manager. “It’s clear we must be more careful than ever to protect ourselves from a growing issue. Making sure we take all necessary steps, including action to secure information in vehicle systems, is vital to ensure we prevent fraud.”
SYNETIQ processes over 50,000 vehicles each year. In the unfortunate event of your car being written off, a SYNETIQ site is often its destination, and the business takes the responsibility of handing your personal data extremely seriously. New vehicles are equipped with myriad features designed to make our lives easier; directing us to our destinations, keeping us connected and sending us alerts. Understandably, most drivers don’t spare a thought to what’s left behind in the event of an accident.
SYNETIQ has been collecting personal items from vehicles for years, returning anything from mobile phones to wedding rings back to their rightful owners. Today that’s not enough, and the business focuses on the things that aren’t always visible at first glance. Names, addresses, phone numbers and emails are all held within modern vehicles – captured by sat nav systems, handsfree technology and other applications. Protecting such data is a priority for SYNETIQ, and the business goes above and beyond to make sure our information is wiped – whether a vehicle goes to auction, for repair or for recycling.
“We do a complete factory reset on each vehicle as soon as it reaches us,” continues Anna. “We will always gain entry regardless of the circumstances – we even order new keys if a vehicle is deadlocked, and report back to our fleet and insurance clients so the process is fully traceable.”
“We must keep pace with vehicle technology to ensure we securely dispose of all vehicle data. As a business, we want to work closely with manufacturers to gain an understanding of new systems to make sure we’re always ahead of the game. Our information security really does depend on it.”