If you are in the market for a car, but need to save money, the typical choice is to look for a used model. While there are many reputable used car dealers who will sell you a good used car at a reasonable price, be cautious when dealing with individual sellers or online marketplaces. A problem may arise if you don’t personally know the seller or buy from a well-established car dealer.
The problem: The car might be stolen and disguised as another car using a process called VIN cloning.
With over 700,000 stolen cars each year, VIN cloning has become a profitable enterprise for car thieves. In this scheme, to avoid police, the VIN number on the stolen car is replaced with that of a car that has not been stolen. Bogus paperwork with the false VIN number may also accompany the car. Once sold, if it is later repossessed by the police as a stolen car, the purchaser ends up without a car and no way to get their money back. The best defense against this scam is to do your homework before purchasing by getting a detailed vehicle history to look for discrepancies and lapses in documentation.
Tips to Avoid VIN Cloning:
- Be extremely cautious if you see a late-model luxury car or SUV selling significantly under normal market price.
- Do not fall for the “we need cash quickly” excuse; exercise due diligence.
- Check the VIN number on the dashboard, inside the door jamb and under the hood against the car’s title documents for discrepancies.
- Closely examine the car’s title, registration and other documents. Fake documents sometimes contain misspelled words.
- If you still have questions about the validity of the vehicle’s VIN, obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report.
- If you believe your car has been cloned contact your local law enforcement.
For more information on VIN Cloning, got to VIN Check – Protect Yourself from VIN Fraud and VIN Cloning: How Thieves Can Steal Your Car’s Identity.