How can I find out if a used car is stolen before I buy it?

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Verify the VIN and License Plate

To find out if a used car is stolen before you buy it, you can verify the license plate and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) with law enforcement and the DMV, and you can review a vehicle history report to make sure the VIN matches the vehicle.

You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a used car only to find out later that the car was stolen. Not only will you have to return the car to its rightful owner, you may face criminal prosecution for purchasing stolen goods. In addition, you will have lost the money you paid for the car, or if you took out a car loan, you’ll still be responsible for paying it off.

What to Do

Protect yourself and make sure a used car isn’t stolen before you buy it:
  • Write down the license plate number and VIN from the used car.
  • Check with law enforcement and the DMV to see if the car has been reported stolen.
  • Verify that the license plate and VIN match the vehicle, and that all the VINs match each other. Sometimes car thieves replace or alter VINs or swap out license plates from other cars to hide the fact that the vehicle is stolen, or use stolen car parts on cars.
If the VINs don't match, report the car to the police.

One easy way to avoid having to deal with law enforcement or the DMV is to obtain a vehicle history report. A vehicle history report will tell you whether the VIN matches the vehicle and whether the vehicle has been reported stolen. Take a moment today and easily get the information you need by ordering a vehicle history report online.

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