bbb vehicle history report scamThe Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports a new scam going around involving tricking car sellers into paying for questionable vehicle history reports.

It makes sense that potential buyers may want to see a vehicle history report, but beware if they suggest getting the report from an unknown business.

A consumer filed a BBB Scam Tracker report regarding a firm called historycheck24.com. The consumer had posted an advertisement on a local website to sell his vehicle. He was then contacted by someone who claimed to be interested in his vehicle, but required a vehicle history report on the vehicle’s identification number (VIN). The potential buyer then suggested the website historycheck24.com.

The consumer went to that site and was redirected to the website lookupVIN.com, which offers VIN reports for $19.95. BBB’s Business Review shows this firm has more than 20 complaints and 26 negative customer reviews. Complaints and reviews to BBB allege that the VIN history report from lookupVIN.com does not include some basic items that should be included, such as vehicle accidents. The firm has an F rating.

Multiple complaints allege the same story: supposed buyers referring the seller to a website connected to LookupVin.com. Those potential buyers never ultimately purchased the car.

The address listed on LookupVIN’s website, in Prineville, Ore., is the address for a church community services center. The church says LookupVIN is not at their location. There is no verified physical location for the business.

The BBB contacted a division within the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). BBB noted that LookupVIN is receiving their information from National Motor Vehicle Title Association (NMVTA), not NMVTIS. They have very similar names and initials, but under federal law, states, insurance carriers, salvage yards, and junk yards are required to report specific information about vehicles only to NMVTIS, not NMVTA. Neither LookupVIN nor any of the other multiple names the business uses is an approved provider of NMVTIS information.

BBB offers the following tips to help those selling or buying vehicles to avoid being scammed.

Beware of scams when selling a vehicle

—Alleged buyer requesting a VIN history report from a specific site before you are able to check out the business.

—Check or money order sent that is for more than the price of the vehicle and requesting that you ship the vehicle and keep the overage. Checks or money orders should be confirmed as legitimate before the vehicle is delivered.

—Consumer offering full payment without even seeing the vehicle.

—Offering to pay through eBay’s Vehicle Purchase Protection program when buying the vehicle through another website. eBay calls this fraud and says their Vehicle Purchase Protection covers only certain vehicle transactions that are completed on eBay.com.

BBB tips for purchasing a vehicle

—NMVTIS provides a list of approved data providers. There are 11 providers listed, of which only six provide information to consumers (for a fee). The other five provide only to car dealerships. Information provided by NMVTIS can include current and previous state of title data, title issue date, latest odometer data, theft history data (if any), any brand assigned to a vehicle and date applied, and salvage history including designations as a “total loss” (if any).

—The National Automobile Theft Bureau created a free site after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 where consumers can check to see if vehicles have been stolen or deemed salvage.

—Ask seller for records of maintenance on the vehicle.

—Inspect the car and take it to a reputable mechanic for inspection.

—Look up BBB’s extensive tips on buying a used vehicle at go.bbb.org/1RRHVib.

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