Automotive

What can someone do with a VIN number?

  • Last Updated:
  • Sep 18th, 2009 6:20 pm
Tags:
None
Deal Addict
Sep 1, 2003
1526 posts
3 upvotes

What can someone do with a VIN number?

I got an email from someone about my car I'm selling and they asked me for the VIN number. They didn't explain but what they wanted it for, my first assumption was to get a Carproof report. But I paused because I find it odd someone would want that information without even viewing the car first.

Is there some something a would-be identity thief or the like could do with a VIN number or is this a perfectly innocent request?
11 replies
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jan 15, 2008
856 posts
49 upvotes
Oil country
I too have just recently been asked to supply them my VIN on my car thats for sale. He hasn't seen the car in person yet. I assume it is for a carfax search and whatnot. Which is good b/c im hoping it is a legitimate buyer finally. (alot of scammers out there! wow).
A friend mentioned that I shouldn't give out my VIN because of "re-VIN-ed" scams...But I don't see how this can affect me as a seller. I know my car is clean and genuine.
I could easily slap a for sale sign on my window and anyone can walk by and write down the VIN... No big deal right? It's not like it contains personal information.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
19880 posts
1515 upvotes
If by "what can they do with it" you mean what malfeasance they can engage in or what harm they can do to you from having your VIN number? Pretty much? Nothing.

Your VIN numer is publicly displayed on your car, just like your license plate. ANYONE can see that information just by walking by your car. Yet, how many things have people "done something" with this information so far? They can't do anything more with it than anyone else could and trust me there are far more criminal people out there just walking around the streets than are looking to buy cars on the intarwebs, LOL. And all they can do, same as the people walking by your car, is nothing.

If you don't give the VIN, the buyer will probably move on and you'll lose a possible sale. That's what I would do.

What usefulness it has to them though as a legitimate prospective buyer, has already been covered above.

For the same reason I always wonder why people blur their license plate when they take pics of their car and post them on the intarwebs. I mean it's not like your plate is normally something secret--everyone in the world can see it when you're driving on the road! Same thing goes for the even weirder practice of hiding serial numbers on stuff like electronics in similar situations. Like what the hell is someone going to do with the serial number from your iPod? Impersonate you and, as an imposter of you empty your bank accounts and go on a crime spree claiming to be you, all from your serial number? LOL, some people have way too active imaginations.
Jr. Member
Jan 10, 2006
109 posts
18 upvotes
Madden
The Vin is also an indicator of the particular model of a car. Eg. Turbo vs non-turbo.
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2008
1554 posts
67 upvotes
Ottawa
VerMitsu wrote:
Sep 17th, 2009 6:16 am
The Vin is also an indicator of the particular model of a car. Eg. Turbo vs non-turbo.

+1

As well as CarFax it can be used to do a search on LienQuest to see if there
are any liens on it
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 12, 2003
7793 posts
36 upvotes
pluto wrote:
Sep 12th, 2009 8:25 pm
I got an email from someone about my car I'm selling and they asked me for the VIN number. They didn't explain but what they wanted it for, my first assumption was to get a Carproof report. But I paused because I find it odd someone would want that information without even viewing the car first.

Is there some something a would-be identity thief or the like could do with a VIN number or is this a perfectly innocent request?
totally not odd.. I would do that first also... I mean.. say you are on Waterloo.. and i'm in Toronto.. I would rather see if the clean is clean "as you say" before I make a trip over to see it.

Same with ebay Motors.. VIN# check before going to the States to see the car
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 30, 2006
3568 posts
31 upvotes
Im looking for a used car now, and if they are far away, I ask for the VIN so Im not driving all the way to look at a lemon.

If they refuse to give me the VIN, then it seems like they are hiding something and I don't bother.

My cuz works at a dealership so he can check them for me.
shaka braddah!
Member
Oct 22, 2007
230 posts
2 upvotes
Burnaby
ES_Revenge wrote:
Sep 16th, 2009 12:37 am
For the same reason I always wonder why people blur their license plate when they take pics of their car and post them on the intarwebs.
Sometimes people with expensive (or what they think is expensive) cars or bikes or what have you will blur the plate# so that potential thieves can't easily find their address.

Of course, they could just pretend to be buyers, but that's more work.

However, I agree, no VIN# no sale for me. Why bother, too many junkers and rebuilds out there...
Sr. Member
Nov 15, 2005
897 posts
48 upvotes
GTA
ES_Revenge wrote:
Sep 16th, 2009 12:37 am
I always wonder why people blur their license plate when they take pics of their car and post them on the intarwebs. I mean it's not like your plate is normally something secret--everyone in the world can see it when you're driving on the road!
Covering your plates at the right times can potentially save you grief if you are participating in some sort of motorsport involving your car. Most people are not covered for insurance on a race course or something and if the insurance company found out...
[OP]
Deal Addict
Sep 1, 2003
1526 posts
3 upvotes
Thanks for the opinions folks. It had occurred to me that the VIN is displayed on the vehicle, but somehow the idea of sending it to a potential Nigerian scammer made me a little nervous. There are a ton of them out there, I get a few emails a day from them.
Deal Addict
Mar 3, 2004
1047 posts
40 upvotes
ES_Revenge wrote:
Sep 16th, 2009 12:37 am
For the same reason I always wonder why people blur their license plate when they take pics of their car and post them on the intarwebs. I mean it's not like your plate is normally something secret--everyone in the world can see it when you're driving on the road!
I often wonder about this too. Do you think the same people would get mad if someone else took pics of their car on the street and post it on the internet? haha.
× < >

Top