Call 12 for Action

What you need to know if you're buying or selling a 'smart' home

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - From smart light bulbs to smart refrigerators, the smart home market is growing quickly. 

"It's only going to get bigger," CNET.com's Lindsey Turrentine told CBS News. "I think it's going to be pretty unusual in five years to enter a home that doesn't have a digital assistant like Amazon Echo, like Google Home plugged in somewhere in the house."

Though the technology adds convenience, Eduard Bartholme, the Executive Director of Call for Action, cautions there are privacy issues to consider, especially if someone is selling a smart home. 
 
"Some of those devices you can just unhook and take with you," Bartholme told Call 12 for Action. "Others you might be leaving behind. That smart refrigerator that you bought, that might be staying with the new owner. How do you factory reset that, clean that out, and erase anything that’s customized to you?"

If a seller doesn't take time to erase settings, he or she could be leaving a home full of your personal information for the next owner.  

"It might be patterns of when you’re home and when you're not home," Bartholme said. "It could be things like your new address if you leave an account that’s still connected." 

"There are also a lot of security devices right now, like Ring  doorbells and things like that where you could be inviting people into either a previous residence or your current residence based on that old, inaccurate data," Bartholme added. 

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a person who buys a home that is equipped with smart technology should check to see if warranties transfer to new owners. Even if they don't, consumers should create new accounts for the devices to ensure they receive any critical security updates. 

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.


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