Hot Wheels: Is That Car Stolen?
It is a fact that many college students need a car to get them back and forth to campus. Some colleges restrict on campus cars to sophomore year students and above, while commuting focused schools have no such restrictions.
If you’re in need of a quality, used vehicle you need to confirm that the vehicle has not, in fact, been stolen. That means doing a background check on any car you are considering including verifying that the 17-digit vehicle identification number or VIN is authentic.
1. Find the VIN. Every car built from 1981 has a VIN, a 17-digit alphanumeric number sequence that is unique to your used car. Most VIN labels are located on top of the vehicle dashboard at the foot of the windshield. You will need to step outside of the car and copy down the number. It can also be found on the driver’s door jamb.
2. Determine vehicle information. Besides the VIN, you will need to copy down the vehicle make, model and model year. This information is needed to help match the VIN with the vehicle you are considering buying.
3. Perform a VinCheck. You can check a VIN for free by visiting the National Insurance Crime Bureau site. Click on “VINCheck” and enter your VIN followed by checking the “terms and conditions of use.” The third step is to enter the verification code and then pressing the search button. If your information is incomplete or unavailable, head over to the commercial Carfax website and pay for a report.
4. Review your results. Review your reports. If there is a problem with a vehicle it will appear listed as a stolen car. You should know that the owner may not be aware of the report as that VIN may have been stolen and reused elsewhere. Just like identify theft, the owner of the vehicle may have to prove that the car he owns is the one that matches the VIN. Cloned VINs are routinely used to market stolen vehicles.
Other warning signs that a car deal may be a bad one is if the price offered is too good to be true. Never give in to pressure to buy a car and always have a mechanic check it out before you buy it.
If you buy a stolen car, you could be held liable. At the very least, the money you paid will be forfeited and that is not something any motorist especially a cash-strapped college student can afford.