via Key fobs latest VW woe, clarionledger.com
If you own certain models of Volkswagen diesel vehicles, you’re probably aware of the $10.3 billion settlement involving “clean diesel” claims made by the German automaker. This history-making settlement between VW and the Federal Trade Commission promises to compensate consumers who bought VW models with 2.0-liter diesel engines in a “buyback” program of unprecedented size, in many cases, offering more than the vehicle’s current value, or making repairs and paying cash in addition.
Now, a new concern has emerged for VW owners: some VW cars’ remote keyless entry systems could be hacked, leading to your vehicle being stolen. British researchers and a German engineering firm announced last week that the key fobs for millions of VW Jettas and Passats sold between 1995 and 2016, as well as those for some Audis and other brands, could be compromised, letting thieves potentially unlock and steal the vehicles. The vulnerability could affect as many as 100 million cars.
According to many sources, it’s not the first time that VW vehicles have been found to have security vulnerabilities; the same firm that released this week’s results also found significant vulnerabilities back in 2012, but announcement of those results were delayed for two years after VW allegedly sued to keep the story quiet (citing the increased risk of theft if the results were made public).
This developing story comes on the heels of the emissions scandal (some have dubbed it “Dieselgate”), in which Volkswagen was accused of having falsified emissions test results. The automaker admitted to using what’s been called a “defeat device,” which caused more than 500,000 diesel vehicles to appear to be more environmentally friendly than they actually were.
The emissions scandal is already producing a lot of confusion about the settlement and the “buy-back” program. The FTC this week warned VW, and independent dealers, that they should be careful when using the buyback program for marketing. “It would be unwise for anyone — including independent VW dealers — to make separate offers implying either that an offer is part of the $10.03 billion settlement if it is not, or that affected diesel owners must buy a new VW or Audi,” the FTC noted in a news release. “FTC staff will be watching closely to ensure that the compensation process is unsullied by deception.”
The agency advises consumers that their first step should be to visit VWCourtSettlement.com , the official settlement website. There, owners can register their vehicle, and find out their options. Buybacks could start in late fall of this year and emissions modifications will begin once approved.
VW owners shouldn’t feel pressured to make a quick decision; they have more than two years to decide. And, if they get settlement money, they can use it for whatever they want. Apparently, the FTC and other agencies have been hearing from VW owners who have been approached with alternate offers, trying to take advantage of the concerns.
“It’s unwise,” warned FTC blogger Lesley Fair, “for anyone — including independently-owned VW dealers — to make separate offers that: 1) falsely imply that the offer is part of the pending $10 billion settlement, 2) falsely tell owners they have to spend compensation under the settlement on a new VW or Audi or 3) use “Act now!” tactics to lock owners into a separate deal before owners have the full picture of what they stand to gain as part of the $10 billion settlement.”
“If someone makes you an offer for your VW or Audi car, or suggests limits on the buyback program that don’t exist, please report them to the FTC,” Fair added. “We worked very hard to get a fair deal for VW and Audi owners and lessees, and we don’t want anyone to undermine it.”
Meanwhile, many experts say that although the key fob vulnerabilities are real (and likely not limited to just VWs), it apparently takes quite a lot of effort, targeting specific vehicles. To find out more about the buyback program related to the emissions settlement, VW owners should visit http://VWCourtSettlement.com.