Would you feel comfortable knowing a range of auto dealership employees had remote access to determine whether you could get to work on time or at all, transport your partner to the hospital in an emergency or bring your children to school?
Technology used to disable vehicles when consumers are late with payments saw many vehicles in Texas disturbed in such a way recently, when police say former Texas Auto Center employee, 20-year-old Omar Ramos-Lopez, interfered with the vehicles of over 100 customers of the four dealership chain. Ramos-Lopez was reportedly angered over having been laid off last month, and in retaliation the former employee set horns to honk uncontrollably or rendered the vehicles themselves useless. Although dealership management initially dismissed the incidents as a “mechanical failure,” Ramos-Lopez’s interference was soon discovered and he was arrested Tuesday on “computer interference” charges..
The incidents in Texas raise serious questions about the practice, as merely disabling Ramos-Lopez’s login was not enough to keep him from logging on remotely and causing problems:
Ramos-Lopez’s account had been closed when he was terminated from Texas Auto Center in a workforce reduction last month, but he allegedly got in through another employee’s account, Garcia says. At first, the intruder targeted vehicles by searching on the names of specific customers. Then he discovered he could pull up a database of all 1,100 Auto Center customers whose cars were equipped with the device. He started going down the list in alphabetical order, vandalizing the records, disabling the cars and setting off the horns.
How do you feel about dealerships having access to your vehicle in such a manner? Should good old repossession be good enough, or should a shady car salesman have the ability to set your horn off honking while you’re at a job interview when you’ve fallen behind on payments due to unemployment?