You’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on what you think is a quality used car. Perhaps you took out a loan to finance all or part of your new purchase.
Then you get a knock on door from law enforcement and discover that your new car is a stolen vehicle, sold to you using a fraudulent vehicle identification number (VIN). Your car is impounded by the police but you still have to pay off the loan, despite being an innocent victim of the crime.
Even worse, you may find yourself part of a criminal investigation.
VIN fraud is used by criminals to hide stolen cars by giving the vehicle identification number of a legally registered car to a stolen one.
They simply swipe the plate or number from cars at dealerships or parking lots. They use the stolen VINs to change or forge title documents, covering the car’s true history.
When the FBI broke up a large car theft ring they found thieves from Florida, Illinois and Mexico had cloned over 1,000 vehicles worth $25 million. Anyone who unwittingly purchased a car from them faced having their car confiscated.
“Scam artists can make off with as much as $30,000 of your hard-earned money and leave you paying off a loan for a car you no longer own,” says Larry Gamache of CARFAX.
How to Protect Yourself From VIN Fraud
Taking the time to protect yourself against VIN fraud could save you thousands of dollars.
Buying from a reputable used car dealer is one of the best ways to reduce your risk. CARFAX listings have thousands of pre-checked vehicles which are protected by the CARFAX Buyback Guarantee.*
- Check the VINs on the dash, driver’s door sticker, car frame, title documents and service records all match
- Examine the VIN plate on the dash for any sign of tampering
- Look at the CARFAX Vehicle History Report and check:
- For a clone alert
- If the mileage on the odometer matches reported mileage
- For several registrations between states – this is a red flag which should be investigated further
- Follow our tips for detecting salvage title fraud
- Get the car inspected by a qualified, independent mechanic