How To Spot a Fake VIN

Written by Danny Collins
Last updated: September 14, 2022

When buying a used automobile, it’s important to be vigilant and look for any signs of fraud. One thing you should watch out for and pay attention to is fake VINs. A VIN (vehicle identification number) is a unique code assigned to every car manufactured in the United States. This number helps track the car’s history and ownership. If a seller tries to give you a car with a fake VIN, it’s probably because they’re trying to hide something from you. This blog post will help you spot a fake VIN on a used car. We’ll also provide tips for buyers on how to protect themselves from being scammed. 

What Is VIN?

VIN is an acronym for Vehicle Identification Number. This identification number is unique to each vehicle and helps to track its history, ownership, and other important information. You can find the VIN on your dashboard, registration card, or insurance policy. This number is released by the manufacturer and is typically 17 digits long. It consists of numbers and letters; you can use it to decode a car’s make, model, year, and other information.

VIN can be divided into three sections:

  • The first section of VIN is the World Manufacturer Identifier (WMI). This identifies the country of origin, the manufacturer, and the car type.
  • The second section is the Vehicle Descriptor Section (VDS). This includes information about the car’s body, engine, and transmission.
  • The third section is the Vehicle Identifier Section (VIS). This contains information about the car’s features and options.

You can locate VINs in several places on the car and your paperwork. For example, you might find it:

  • On the driver’s side dashboard (visible through the windshield)
  • On the car’s registration card
  • On your insurance policy
  • On your vehicle title
  • Inside the car’s computer system
  • The inside surface of the driver’s side door
  • On the left side of the engine block, beneath the hood near the front
  • Above the tire, inside the rear wheel well, above the back tire
  • Under the trunk’s spare tire

Can VIN be faked?

Unfortunately, VINs can be faked. This is usually done by unscrupulous sellers trying to hide something about the car’s history. For example, they might be trying to sell a stolen car or one that has been in a serious accident. When buying used automobiles, it’s important to be vigilant and watch for any signs of fraud.

Type of VIN Fraud

The most common type of VIN fraud is called “cloning.” A seller takes the VIN from a similar car and uses it to create a fake VIN for their car. Scammers can change one or two digits in the original VIN or use a different letter or number instead of one already there.

Another type of VIN fraud is called “washing.” This is when a seller takes a car that has been in an accident or has another issue with its history and tries to clean up the title by getting a new VIN. They might do this by registering the car in another state where the rules differ or creating a fake VIN.

What Happened If I Buy a Car with Fake VIN?

If you buy a car with a fake VIN, you could be in for some serious problems down the road. For one, The number will not accurately reflect the car’s history in the VIN. Additionally, if the car is stolen, you could be at risk of being arrested for receiving stolen property.

This is why it’s important to be careful when buying a used car. Make sure to get the car’s VIN and run a history report on it before you hand over any money. 

Tips for Buyers: How can you spot a fake VIN?

There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from buying a car with a fake VIN. These are some tips you can use:

Check the spacing between the letters and numbers

If they’re not evenly spaced, it’s a red flag. VIN must have 17 characters, and each should be evenly spaced. Make sure that there are no extra spaces between characters.

Look for missing characters

If any letters or numbers are missing, it’s another sign that the VIN has been tampered with. Match the numbers with what should be there for the make and model of the car.

Don’t forget to ask for the vehicle title

When you’re buying a car, be sure to ask for the title. This document will have important information about the car, including the VIN. If the seller doesn’t have the title or is reluctant to give it to you, that’s a bad sign.

Check all paperwork thoroughly

To avoid being a victim of VIN fraud, it’s important to be thorough when buying a used car. Check all the paperwork carefully, including the bill of sale, title, and registration. Make sure that the VIN on all these documents matches.

Match the VIN to the car

Before buying a used car, look closely at the VIN. Compare it to the make and model of the car. If it doesn’t match, that’s a sign that the VIN has been tampered with. All VINs in the car must match.

Get a vehicle history report

When buying a used car, get a vehicle history report. Our free car check will have information about the car’s previous owners, accidents, and repairs. It’s a good way to check for any red flags indicating fraud.

Use a VIN decoder

If you’re unsure about a VIN, you can use a VIN decoder. This tool will tell you information about the car, such as its make and model. You can also use it to check for any red flags indicating fraud.

Inspect the car carefully

When you’re looking at a used car, take the time to inspect it carefully. Look for any signs of damage or wear and tear. This can indicate that the car has been in an accident or had extensive repairs.

VIN scamming is a serious problem, but you can avoid being a victim by following these tips. Be sure to get the automobile’s VIN and run a history report on it before buying.