The VIN is your vehicle’s identification number, and is visible on some cars just by walking up to the windshield and peering at a tiny plate stamped to the dashboard. It’s also possible to find out a VIN by searching the license plate number, as is a practice in which we partake in order to verify a vehicle’s history.
That being said, it is perfectly safe to give out your VIN. It’s in (essentially) plain sight, just like your license plate. We at Instamotor would argue in favor of sharing your VIN when trying to sell your car, so a buyer can look at the history and know what they are getting into. The more transparency the better, so the buyer can know more about the car and also helps the selling process move along.
VIN cloning is a highly difficult and highly illegal process. This is when someone jots down the VIN from an unsuspecting vehicle of the same make and model that they stole, perhaps in a parking lot or dealership, and can use it to alter documentation. The cloned VIN is then used to mask theft, where the stolen car gets a legitimate VIN plate from a registered vehicle, usually from a different area entirely.
Another way VIN cloning happens is that they will steal the VIN plate off of a vehicle (most likely by cutting it out of the car’s frame), and then welding it to a car of the same make and model.
When you’re looking to buy a used car, make sure the VINs all match on the documentation and on the car. There are a few places on the car that the manufacturer print its VIN, specifically on the dashboard against at the base of the windshield and on the inside of the door frame. Research your exact model to be absolutely sure. It’s unlikely that thieves will take the welding-new-vins approach to stealing cars, so making sure the numbers match is a good way of making sure the car is legitimate. But be careful still, because if the numbers don’t match and you buy the car, you could be implicated in car theft, get the car taken away from you and be left with nothing.
VINs are just another thing to be aware of when dealing with car transactions. It’s good practice to get it so you can check out the vehicle’s history from a seller. If you’re selling, it’s a good idea to stay vigilant of scams like VIN cloning. Keep your documentation handy, and as long as you have a legitimate title you should be in the clear.
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