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Watch Out for VIN Cloning

» Posted November 11, 2016Resources | Share This Post

Car buyers face lots of potential for loss when they are purchasing a vehicle. That said, buyers should consult with a San Diego lemon law attorney if they think they might have gotten a defective car.

Keeping track of all of the possible scams and problems that could arise when you are car shopping can be almost impossible, as it seems there are new schemes developed every day. Still, consumers who are buying cars owe it to themselves to do some research and try to make sure they know what the common scams are, as well as how consumer protection laws work.

One scam that car shoppers should be aware of is called VIN cloning. WHNT 19 reported on the problem of VIN cloning and offers an explanation to consumers about how this scam can damage them financially when they try to buy a car and get caught up in the scheme. 

Understanding VIN Cloning

VIN cloning is a scheme used by unscrupulous car sellers in order to disguise the identity of a stolen motor vehicle so the stolen car can be sold to an innocent consumer.  More than 700,000 cars are stolen each year in the United States, so VIN cloning has become a very popular approach to scamming consumers by finding ways to unload stolen vehicles onto them.

VIN cloning is done to try to avoid police finding out the car was originally stolen. The process involves replacing the VIN number on the car which was taken with a false VIN from a different car that was not ever taken by a thief.  The false VIN number can even be included on phony paperwork which the dealer provides to an unsuspecting buyer.

The issue is, the driver who got the car with the stolen VIN faces potential problems for the rest of the time driving the car. If police ever discover that the car is stolen and that a false VIN has been used, the car could be repossessed as a stolen vehicle. The innocent buyer, who likely bought it from a dealer or seller who engaged in VIN cloning, would end up being out of luck, left with no car and no recourse or way to get back the money that was paid for the car.

Knowing about scams like VIN cloning is an important first step in avoiding being taken advantage of.  Consumers are warned of prices that seem too good to be true, especially if the car is a late model SUV or late model luxury car that is priced well below the normal cost.  Consumers should also look at the VIN in all places where it is found to make sure the numbers match. This includes the dashboard, in the door jam, in the title documents and under the hood of the vehicle.

It is also important to know the consumer protection laws that can help when something goes wrong. To find out more about laws that can protect car buyers, contact a California lemon law lawyer today.


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