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Something Else To Worry About

Until recently identity theft only happened to people, but now there are scammers out there who are stealing the identity of legitimate, registered automobiles and applying the duplicated VIN numbers to stolen cars, or even worse, cars that may have been severely compromised through flood damage or serious accidents resulting in the car being totaled.

These crooks roam dealer lots, parking lots or even the Internet to find the right make, model and color, they copy down the VIN number and apply it to a vehicle a thief brought them the day before. Usually these cars then go to other criminals or eventually to auction houses where they are disposed of. In many cases dealers purchase them and then sell them again, believing them to be legitimate.

This results in two similar cars having the same identity, but it's usually not until the police or an insurance company discovers the scam that the owners realize that they "own" a stolen car. The good news is that your insurance company is likely to cover your loss. Far better though to avoid the danger by having your car checked out by CARFAX before you take possession of it. And make sure you verify the VIN number yourself.

Crooks can also copy down the VIN number of your car, take it to a dealership that doesn't ask too many questions, have a duplicate key made for $6 or so, and you wake up one morning to find that your car is long gone. The best defense in this case is to simply cover your VIN# with a strip of black electrical tape.

Seen from outside the vehicle, the VIN# is a seventeen character alphanumeric ID plate that's situated at the base of the windshield on the driver's side.

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