Many lenders, particularly lower down the credit scale, have embraced starter-interruption devices as a godsend. There can't be a greater motivation to pay a loan than the threat of an "interrupted" car.
Well, the starter-interruption devices didn't exactly work as planned down in Austin, Texas, recently -- and the episode should jolt manufacturers of these devices to improve their products.
was a former employee of a Texas buy-here-pay-here called Texas Auto Center
hacked into the starter-interruption system and proceed to lock down all the cars the dealership had outfitted with interrupt devices in late February. Reportedly, the former employee, Omar Ramos-Lopez, disabled or triggered the horns of more than 100 cars around Austin. Texas Auto Center had outfitted about 1,100 cars in all. Police arrested Ramos-Lopez last Tuesday.
Ramos-Lopez apparently gained access to a former dealership colleague's account on the starter-interruption system, called Webtech Plus, which is operated by Cleveland-based Pay Technologies
. If that can happen, the system's security must be called into question. I understand why starter-interruption systems are such a boon to lenders, but that benefit evaporates immediately when such incidents occur. Right now, this is a one-off. Let's hope there is no repeat security breach.