May 24, 2024
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By Ezra Kaplan

The thieves only took two minutes to smash the windows, drive off and start the vehicle. Nobody noticed that there was no car alarm. The next day, no one noticed.

I walked outside and said, “Oh my God.” I was frozen. “I had no clue how to deal with that”, Joley Forman explained. The Hyundai Elantra that Forman was driving had gone missing. It is one of many cars being stolen as a result a TikTok viral trend.

In the last year alone, there were 2,709 Kias or Hyundais stolen in Portland. Kia Boys, a social media competition that taught people to jumpstart cars using a USB cord and smartphone, was a popular challenge. Although the company implemented a solution in software, millions of cars are not updated. Many people still do not know about this problem.

Hyundai and Kia are two independent, but closely related, companies that announced in February of this year a solution for free. The software update was the main component that increased the length of the alarm from 30 seconds up to 1 minute. In addition, the new software will require that the car key be in ignition before it can start. This fixes the original vulnerability.

The vehicles affected were all manufactured between 2010-2021, and they have key ignition rather than push ignition.

The car manufacturers did not include an immobilizer. “An immobilizer prevents the engine from starting if the key is not present and there’s no ignition,” explained Patrick Olsen. Since 1998, the European Union requires that immobilizers be standard on new cars.

Both car manufacturers offer to reimburse the cost of steering wheel locks, also known as clubs.

In a class-action lawsuit, it is alleged that this compensation does not go far enough.

The class action suit was initially filed late in 2022 and represents all owners of affected vehicles.

The judge initially rejected a settlement reached in May because he felt the victims were entitled to more compensation. The same judge approved this new agreement on a preliminary basis. It allows a refund up to 60% of the value of stolen cars and 33%, or $3.375 in cases where vehicles have been criminally damaged.

According to a law firm representing the group members, the notice will be sent out to the group members by no later than 4 March 2024. Next summer, victims are likely to receive their first compensation.

Carfax is working with Kia to keep track of the cars that are still unrepaired. Carfax has added a note in the vehicle history to alert potential buyers to vulnerable cars.

According to Carfax, there is still a need for repair on 4.5 million cars. Since Carfax started tracking numbers in July, about 400,000 cars have had their information updated.

The problem with spreading the message is that it’s not easy.

Olsen admits that the email system has flaws even though emails were sent.

Mail is not what it once was, and it’s no longer the primary means of communication. Second, mail scams are so common, if you will. Some people are trying to sell car warranty extensions. “I think that some people just ignore the email because they believe it is like all other emails they receive,” Olsen explained.

Most people don’t realize the danger until it is too late.

This has apparently been happening for quite some years. “I feel not only late but also suffering as a result,” Forman said. She claims that, despite being an avid user of social media, she had never seen the subject mentioned. Forman is back on the car market, looking to replace her car. But she doesn’t believe that car companies will fulfill their part of the bargain.

Forman stated, “I don’t feel that they are taking any responsibility for this situation.” They’re not telling us, “Hey, We made a mistake, and we will make an effort to fix it. ‘”

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