For years, vehicle identification numbers (VINs) have served as sufficient proof of a car’s identity. Car buyers, car dealers and auto insurers may have to be more careful about taking VINs at face value, however, because scammers are now “cloning” VINs to fob off stolen vehicles as legitimate ones.
That’s why the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is warning consumers to be careful about buying used cars that are priced too far below fair market value. They’re also letting the public know that VINs can be verified in a variety of ways including through state departments of motor vehicles, online providers of vehicle histories and the NICB’s own free VINCheck service.
As part of its consumer education program, the NICB has produced a video recounting the experience of a woman from Lancaster, WI who bought a used GMC Denali and drove it for two years before Carfax notified NICB that an identical Denali was registered in Peabody, MA. The NICB contacted the woman and advised her to bring her vehicle to her local police department for inspection—where it was discovered that it had been stolen in Palm Beach County, FL several years earlier.
“We want people to understand that if the price of a used car is too good to be true, they should proceed with extreme caution,” says Frank Scafidi, the NICB’s Director of Public Affairs. “A simple verification of the car’s VIN is all it takes to protect yourself and possibly help law enforcement take action against significant criminal activity.”
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