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How To Switch A New VIN Number On A Vehicle

The importance of VIN numbers

  • Understanding VIN Tampering
    Be very careful with the VIN numbers on your vehicle. There’s a crackdown happening because there’s a very high number of VIN switches going on with vehicles. This happens to be a news piece out of Nevada, where there is VIN tampering happening on vehicles. What is not known by a lot of people is that a VIN number is considered a legal document.
  • Legal Implications of VIN Alteration
    A VIN number on a vehicle, the primary VIN, is designed to be permanently affixed to that vehicle with tamperproof rivets. If you start switching VIN numbers, moving from one car to another, even innocently, maybe you have a car that’s been damaged, you need another VIN number, or maybe you need to restore the vehicle and take that VIN tag off. There are federal laws regarding VIN tampering or VIN switching. You’re not supposed to take a VIN number off a car, even for a seemingly legitimate reason.

Criminal activities and VIN switching

  • Exploitation by criminals
    Because of this, a lot of scrutiny is now being placed on any type of VIN alteration. A lot of thieves, in this article talking about drug cartels, are switching VINs on stolen vehicles. What they do is get a vehicle that’s stolen, salvaged, or parts only, or for some reason is not eligible for a title. They go get another VIN number off of a clean vehicle, maybe one that’s wrecked, maybe one that they just stole off of a car.
  • Modus Operandi of VIN Switching
    It’s a lot easier to steal a VIN tag than a whole car. So they’ll steal a VIN tag off a car, and the owner may not be aware of it for weeks or months because you don’t normally look at your VIN tag. They’ll use that on another vehicle to get a title on a stolen car or a parts-only car, sell it, and make off with the money.

Regulatory Measures and Prevention

  • State interventions and VIN inspections
    Because of this, a lot of states are going through VIN inspections and verifications. In addition to looking at the VIN number, they’re looking to see how it’s attached to the vehicle, making sure it’s not just with sheet metal screws or some rivets that aren’t factory. They know how to tell the difference.
  • Protecting Yourself as a Buyer or Seller
    If you are purchasing a vehicle, have that VIN number inspected. Have the VIN compared to other places on the car. The police know where the hidden VINs are; they can look and make sure that they’re matching with the primary.

Understanding and Addressing Misconceptions

  • Clarifying “VIN Number”: Now before we get off on a tangent, remember that when we say VIN number, I know that the “N” on VIN stands for number, so VIN number is kind of an oxymoron. But that’s what a lot of people say. The reason it’s said that way is that if you just say VIN, some people don’t know that “N” is a number, so they don’t know what a VIN is. So a VIN number is kind of a common way to say something, even though it’s technically incorrect.

Vigilance and Legal Considerations
So if you’re buying or selling a vehicle, pay very close attention to that VIN, making sure it matches and that it’s not altered. And make sure that if you have any reason you need to move a VIN tag from one vehicle to another, you get good legal advice or you get good documentation for how you do that without creating liability for yourself because technically it’s a federal crime called VIN tampering.

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