FORT MYERS, Fla. - When WINK News Reporter David Bodden bought a used car recently, he noticed something unusual on the onboard GPS system. The former owner's address was still saved as the home address on the GPS.
To take it one step further, we plugged the address onto Google Maps Street View and sure enough, we found the car parked in the garage.
We were curious how common this is. So we checked all of the cars in our parking lot and we found three others that had the former owner's address saved.
Same story with Beth Schell, a crime prevention specialist with the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
"It didn't even dawn on me when I got into the car that I bought, and it was taking me to Tarpon Springs, the previous owner's residence," said Schell.
WINK News Call For Action has warned you about portable GPS devices, but you usually don't sell those when you get rid of your car. But unless you delete the address from your onboard GPS, it's going to be there directing whoever drives your car right to your house.
To make matters worse, many new cars not only come with a GPS but also with a programmable garage door opener. Imagine if you sold your car but didn't clear the data.
"Somebody can drive right to my house, the GPS will be nice enough to take them there, and then my sun visor will be nice enough to open the garage door for them," said John Benkert, the owner of CPR Tools in LaBelle.
Benkert speaks about this very topic while travelling across the country.
"Just as you wouldn't leave your keys in your car, unlocked with the windows down in the parking lot, you shouldn't sell your GPS or give your car back to you dealer as a trade-in without taking care of that stuff," Benkert said.
So how does this happen? For one, there's no requirement for car dealers to clear the information. It's up to the former owners, and it can often be overlooked.
"The day you sell your car, or the day you trade your car in to get a new car, we're excited naturally about a new thing," Benkert said, "don't let the excitement of the event take away from your security."
Instead, you should be vigilant. If you're trading your car in to a dealership, mention to them you want to wipe the GPS. Or you can contact your car manufacturer and see what they recommend.
Otherwise, you could be giving your address, and a way in, to whoever buys your car.
"It's just easy access. It's like leaving your front door open and saying 'come on inside,'" Schell said,"if we're not careful that convenience can end up costing us."