This seems to only be getting worse…


With all the challenges of 2020, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of people who want to take advantage of others. From increasing car theft rates to all kinds of vehicle scams, we’ve seen just about everything this year. Now comes yet another reminder that you need to pay extra close attention to VIN tags on used cars when you’re out shopping.

Yes, car shopping can be incredibly stressful, especially when you’re on a tight budget and the market is competitive like it is in 2020. Thanks to the coronavirus shutdowns, fewer new cars are being made. People are also choosing to buy used rather than new as they face financial uncertainties. On top of that, as vehicles are destroyed in rioting and people opt to not take public transportation or use ride share services, the increased demand for used cars has driven prices up.

Whenever people are feeling desperate and criminals stand to profit big time, you need to be cautious. We’ve seen all kinds of scams around the vehicle identification numbers or VIN tags on cars. It’s nothing new, but you might not know just how big of a problem it’s become.

Criminals will sometimes put fake tags or repurposed tags on a stolen car so they can sell it to you without problems. Of course, once the deception is discovered, you’ll be out of a vehicle. Sometimes those VIN tags have random numbers and sometimes they have a real VIN.

One growing scam is vehicle rebirthing. A criminal will take parts, sometimes even just the VIN tags from a car that’s the same make and model from a clean car that’s been crashed and put them on a vehicle that’s stolen.

If you notice the VIN tags on the dash or driver’s doorjamb look especially clean, have dog-eared corners, or the screws anchoring them down don’t match, beware. You could very well be dealing with a car that isn’t wearing the original tags.

With modern technology, you can scan the VIN tag on a car and pull up the history using any number of services on your smartphone. It’s quick, easy, and costs little but can save you big time. Running the car history, you might immediately notice something suspicious.