Buying, leasing, or financing a car involves financial transactions. As such, even without explicitly saying so, a customer's private information should be secured at all times, especially when obtaining an automobile.
However, a vendor to the Volkswagen Group has dropped the ball in protecting the privacy of its customers, affecting more than 3.3 million in North America. Automotive News has reported the issue, obtaining a statement from VW of America.
According to the statement, it recently discovered an unauthorized third party that has obtained "limited personal information received from or about customers and interested buyers from a vendor that Audi, Volkswagen and some authorized dealers in the United States and Canada use for digital sales and marketing activities."
The information was taken between 2014 and 2019 from an electronic file that the unnamed vendor had left unsecured.
The bulk of the leaked information was from 3.1 million Audi customers or interested buyers in the US and 163,000 in Canada. For Volkswagen, 3,300 customers and interested buyers were affected. The information involved in this leakage includes names, mailing addresses, email addresses or phone numbers, and some VINs and vehicle features.
However, around 90,000 Audi customers or interested buyers in the US are in more peril than the others. That's because sensitive information was obtained relating to these individuals, which include driver's license numbers in 95 percent of cases. The other 5 percent had their dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and account numbers obtained by the unauthorized third party.
VW said there was no sensitive information obtained from customers residing in Canada. The company is also notifying all affected individuals directly, while those 90,000 individuals whose sensitive information was taken will be offered free credit protection services.