You are buying a used car for a bargain price and at first glance it seems too good to be true. If you have doubts whether the seller is the actual owner of the car, it is wise to check the legal status of the vehicle. There are a few ways to do so.
Imagine a situation like this: you bought your dream car for a substantial amount of money. The vehicle is registered and insured. After a few months police knocks on your door and says the car has been stolen. Your car is repossesed and you are charged with fencing. Sounds frigthening? Unfortunately, it is possible to be a victim of a fraudster. In order not to be cheated by car thieves it is vital to check the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and thus verify whether the car has been stolen.
1. Go to a police station
If you have doubts about the legal status of a car visit a police station with the seller who should have all the documents concerning the vehicle as well as his or her identity card. Not only the Police can check the VIN in the stolen vehicle database but can also check whether the VIN has been modified. If the seller is reluctant to go to a police station, this should raise your awareness.
2. Verify VIN in databases
Once you have the VIN of a given car (which for cars newer than manufactured in the 80’s is the same as the chassis number), a few databases can be checked if the vehicle has been reported as stolen. The easy way to do it is by visiting autodnaeurope.com where you only have to provide VIN in order to check various databases of stolen vehicles including several registers from European countries (e.g. Italy, Czech Republic, Romania, Lithuania, Slowenia, Netherlands, Sweden and Norway) and Canada.
3. Remain cautious
There is no 100% sure method to check whether the car has been stolen as the rightful owner could not yet report that it was subject to theft. This is why it is always good to be cautious and consider a few more things:
– is the seller of the car the same person as in documents of the vehicle?
– is the VIN clearly visible and has no signs of modification (e.g. blurring, cutting)
– check whether the car has any signs of breaking in – ignition, locks in doors (are the scratched), if glasses have the same serial number. In any case the owner should have two sets of car keys.
– does the owner have all the documents (not only registration but also service book, insurance) including proof of the car purchase
– check the car price – if it’s too low and the seller opts for a quick transaction as he claims he is e.g. leaving the country or needs cash instantly this is another clue that something might be wrong
Buying a stolen car is the worst thing you can do – not only the Police has the right to repossess your car (which means you lost your money), but also you can get into more serious trouble. It does not stop once you register a car as departments of communication have no duty to check whether the vehicle has been stolen.