The U.S. Department of Justice reports the availability of an online computer system to help protect states and consumers from automobile fraud and to provide law enforcement with new tools to investigate fraud, theft, and other crimes involving vehicles. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) was available to consumers as of Jan. 30, 2009, and will be accessible through third-party fee-for-service Web sites, according to Office of Justice Programs - U.S. Department of Justice. The Office of Justice Programs' Bureau of Justice Assistance administers NMVTIS in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The system allows state motor vehicle administrators to verify and exchange titling and brand data, and provides law enforcement officials, consumers and others with critical information regarding vehicle histories. Consumers now have access to the vehicle's brand history, odometer data and basic vehicle information, and can be redirected to the current state of record to access the full title record if available. Law enforcement can track the vehicle's status from state to state by accessing the system directly.

NMVTIS includes specific data on each titled automobile in the system:

•    Current and previous state of title data
•    Title issue date
•    Latest odometer data
•    Theft history data (if any)
•    Any brand given to a vehicle and date applied
•    Salvage history, including designations as a "total loss" (if any)

NMVTIS allows state titling agencies to verify ownership documents before they issue new titles. NMVTIS also allows them to check to see if the vehicle has been reported stolen. If so, the states know not to issue the new title. Brands will not be lost when the branded vehicle travels from state to state because NMVTIS keeps a history of all brands ever applied to the vehicle by a participating state.

A pilot study of NMVTIS showed that it could reduce the incidence of insurance payoffs on stolen vehicles by more than $200 million per year. The pilot also revealed that NMVTIS could prevent title washing of approximately 60,000 brands per year.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, car theft is a profitable business generating nearly $8 billion each year. Along with implementing this system, the Department has outlined the various responsibilities and reporting requirements for states, auto recyclers, junk yards and salvage yards, and insurance carriers. The Department has designed the system consistent with federal law that requires that the system be paid for through user fees and not dependent on federal funding. In research conducted by the Logistics Management Institute, the NMVTIS system is estimated to save taxpayers between $4 billion and $11 billion each year.

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