Steps to know if a car is stolen or has been altered

When you are about to buy a car you always ask yourself the same question: how to know if a car is stolenWell, you know how important it is to buy a car legally and that that car is not searched because someone stole it or altered its license plate.

You, like all people looking for a used car to buy, need to do this research before finalizing the purchase, Do you want to know how to do it?Well, then you should keep reading to find all the information you need before buying your used car.

Step by step how to know if a car is stolen

To solve exactly how to know if a car is stolen there is nothing better than following a step by step like the following:

Step 1: Verification of the VIN «Vehicle Identification Number»

You need to verify the vehicle’s VIN, all cars have a 17 character VIN. The car salesman will surely tell you when you request it, but don’t trust the car and look for it yourself.

What is the VIN “Vehicle Identification Number”?

The vehicle identification number (VIN) is the identification code of a SPECIFIC car. The VIN serves as the car’s fingerprint, as no two vehicles in operation have the same VIN. A VIN is made up of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN shows the car’s unique features, specifications, and manufacturer. The VIN can be used to track withdrawals, registrations, warranty claims, theft, and insurance coverage.

How to find the VIN of your vehicle?

The easiest way to see it is to stand outside the vehicle on the driver’s side and look at the corner of the dashboard where it meets the windshield. If the VIN is not there, open the driver’s side door and look at the door post (where the door closes when closed).

Once you are in front of the car, you can find the VIN by sitting behind the wheel and looking at the top left of the instrument panel.

Without leaving the car, staying seated in the same place, if you did not find it next to the instrument, look to your left, as you can also find the VIN inside the jamb.

If you couldn’t find it next to the instrumentation or inside the jamb, get out of the vehicle and go to the rear of the car, as you can find the VIN on the tire, or go to the front of the car and look for the container where it is located. Find the windshield cleaner, because the VIN is also usually located on the front of the chassis or finally look for the spare tire, lift it, because in general you can also find it underneath it.

Step 2: You will find the VIN printed on a label that cannot be altered, for this you must check that it is correctly attached to the vehicle, none of its corners must be detached, it must not have scrapes, marks, or scratches of any kind.

Touch the VIN label with your hands, because you should realize that it results from a soft texture to the touch, if on the contrary you realize that the texture is rough it will mean that the VIN label was manipulated.

Even the VIN will never be hidden under a screw, socket or any other object that could hide such an important number for the identification of a car. For this reason, in the event that you discover that it is hidden, you must distrust that car whose owner is hiding his identity.

Step 3: Once you have located the VIN of the car, take note of its number and go to the DMV.org database, the site has a compilation of all the vehicles that have been reported stolen.

You just have to enter the VIN number and you will know if that car was stolen or you can buy it without problems, who has been its previous owner, if the odometer works correctly or on the contrary it has defects, if it is a car that suffered flood damage, yes your airbags are working properly and other facts that are interesting to you as a car buyer.

Step 4: Once you have verified the VIN, if it is a stolen car you can report the fraud by calling 800-835-6422 or TIP411 by making a suggestion anonymously.

It is your obligation to report fraud, so you can also make a call to the local police indicating all the details that you have been able to gather about the seller of the stolen car.

Steps to solve how to know if a car is stolen in the United States

While the above method will be helpful to you, there is another way for you to solve how to know if a car is stolen in the United States, in this case follow the following step by step:

Step 01: Contact your insurance company, because all insurance companies have a database of cloned license plates, since it is common that when a car is stolen, the license plate is changed for another that is stolen from another car.

How to know if a car is stolen online

Step 02 where it is verified if a car is stolen: Contact him DMV, Department of Motor Vehicles to do a title search, for which you will need to provide the VIN the car, another alternative is by calling (800) 835-6422 the other option to know if a car is stolen online is by entering the website www.nicb.org/how-we-help/vincheck there put the VIN number to verify it.

After that, you will receive a report that will let you know if it is a salvaged car or an insurance company declared it at some point as a total loss.

Since it is not a free service, you should advise yourself in advance to know the cost and payment methods.

After you receive the corresponding pre-payment report, verify the information of the seller who has given you, as it must match the title, otherwise it will mean that it is a stolen car.

Step 3: Go to the mechanic you trust and request an inspection of the car to detect any manipulation of the VIN. Also ask him to perform a general check on the vehicle to find out its condition, as it is important that when buying a used car a mechanic examines it before finalizing the purchase.

Step 4: Ask the owner of the vehicle to share the service records with you, as the VIN must be found in them and must match the car’s, otherwise the car will most likely be stolen.

However, as the owner of the vehicle was able to forge the service records, what is best for you is to request the service records through Carfax by entering dmv.org with the VIN number and then once you have obtained the reports, verify that there is a match between the description of the report you received and that of the vehicle.

Step 5: The seller must give you a bill of sale as a document certifying that you bought a car. The seller should not hesitate to give you that document, which will include the car’s mark, model and year, as well as the name and address of the seller, your name and address, the total amount of the sale, the date and the seller’s signature.

How to know if a car is stolen by license plates

To know if a car is stolen by license plates you will need the insurance documents, since you will find the license plate number in the part of the supply record.

However, you probably do not have the registration documents, so go to your state motor vehicle agency to inquire about the license plate number of the car.


Types of VIN fraud when buying a car

VIN fraud is the act of replace or alter a vehicle identification number (VIN) in order to deceive consumers or the police. It often occurs in conjunction with vehicle theft. The two most common types of VIN fraud include:

  • VIN cloning : Take a complete VIN of a legally registered vehicle.
  • VIN altering : Change one or more characters in a VIN.

VIN Cloning

The most common method of vehicle or auto fraud, VIN cloning involves taking a VIN from a similar, legally registered vehicle and placing it on damaged or stolen property to conceal your identity.

This allows criminals to:

  • Avoid law enforcement.
  • Selling a stolen vehicle to an unsuspecting buyer.

Because it can be difficult to detect, VIN cloning has become an increasingly popular low-risk option for criminals looking to sell stolen goods.

Car thieves can obtain registered VINs by:

  • Taking a VIN of a registered vehicle, recently recovered from a junkyard.
  • Copy VINs from vehicle windows at dealerships or parking lots.
  • Steal a VIN from the Internet.

With relatively low-tech equipment such as a computer, typewriter, and barcode label printer, criminals can falsify VIN plates, decals, labels, and even vehicle title documents.

Why VIN Cloning Is Dangerous

When a criminal clones a VIN, two or more vehicles are often produced on the road with the same vehicle identification number. Stolen vehicles with cloned VINs are sometimes taken to another state and sold. The victim of VIN fraud is often unaware of what has happened until their vehicle ends up in the same condition as the originally registered vehicle.

In most situations, the unknown new owner of a stolen car or truck incurs property loss when authorities are forced to impound the vehicle. Other dangers of VIN cloning include:

  • Knowingly removing a VIN from a vehicle.
  • Destroy a VIN number to make it unreadable.
  • Change the numbers or characters of a VIN.
  • Any other form of manipulation.

In most cases, alteration of the VIN is a criminal act designed to mislead potential buyers or law enforcement agencies. However, it is also common for a VIN to be removed and reimplanted during restoration. By law, this can result in judicial punishment.

How to avoid VIN fraud

Although detecting VIN fraud can sometimes be difficult to detect, there are several steps you can take to prevent fraud from occurring. The National Social Security Crime Bureau (NCIB) recommends that you:

  • Use caution when buying a car or truck from a dealer using only a cell phone number as your contact information.
  • Do a VIN check for any vehicle you are interested in purchasing.
  • Ask your insurer to check for possible clones in their database.
  • Perform a title search.
  • Thoroughly inspect the VIN of the vehicle.
  • Check the dashboard, the sticker on the driver’s door and / or the frame of the car.
  • Make sure each VIN matches all title documents and service records.
  • Make sure the VIN plate has not been tampered with.
  • Have the vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic.

Reporting VIN fraud

If you suspect that you have been the victim of auto fraud, contact the authorities immediately. The NCIB offers the following reporting methods:

  • Call (800) 835-6422.
  • Write “FRAUD” and your anonymous report to TIP411.
  • Submit a form to NCIB.

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