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Beware of This Vehicle History Scam When Selling Your Car

Cristina POPOV

July 04, 2024

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Beware of This Vehicle History Scam When Selling Your Car

When selling your car, a potential buyer might ask for a vehicle history report. This seems like a reasonable request, but it could be a scam designed to trick you into spending money on a fake report.

There's a new scam targeting car sellers, as reported by Scambusters.org. Scammers are using fake websites with ".VIN" in the web address, which looks like it refers to the vehicle identification number. However, ".VIN" is actually meant for the wine industry ("vin" is French for "wine"). Despite this, anyone can buy a ".VIN" domain, and scammers are taking advantage of this.

These fake websites might take your money and run or overcharge you for a report they buy from a legitimate agency, pocketing the profit.

According to the US Federal Trade Commission, you often can't tell who runs these sites, and they might be after your personal information, including credit card details. Some might even sell your information to third parties for marketing purposes.

Did You Know?

  • Scammers often request vehicle history reports from unfamiliar websites and agencies.
  • Websites ending in ".VIN" are intended for the wine industry, not vehicles.
  • Genuine vehicle history reports can cost between $10 and $50.
  • There are genuine agencies that use "VIN" - such as VinAudit.

How the Scam Works

Here's how the scam typically unfolds:

  1. You list your car for sale online.
  2. A potential buyer contacts you and asks for a vehicle history report from a specific website.
  3. This website looks legitimate and requires a payment, often by credit card.
  4. The website may use the ".VIN" domain to seem authentic, as it is the same as the abbreviation for "vehicle identification number."
  5. Once you pay, the scammer either takes your money without providing a report or overcharges you for a report from a genuine agency, pocketing the difference.

Related: Watch Out for These 6 Parking Scams

What to Do

If a buyer requests a vehicle history report from a specific site, take the following steps:

  • Ask why they want a report from that specific site. Scammers usually can't provide a good reason.
  • Check the reputation of the website online by searching for reviews or complaints.
  • Use the National Motor Vehicles Title Information System (NMVTIS) or reputable agencies like Carfax, AutoCheck, VehicleHistory.com, and VinAudit.

How to Avoid Scams and Stay Safe

  1. Get the report yourself: Purchase a vehicle history report from a trusted agency and include it in your listing to attract serious buyers.
  2. Verify websites: Before using any unfamiliar vehicle history reporting site, research it thoroughly. If a potential buyer asks you to visit a website with "vin" or any other specific name, be cautious of a possible scam.
  3. Know your credit score: If you're buying a car, know your credit score or arrange financing beforehand to avoid inflated interest rates from dishonest dealers.

Related: Debt Collection Scams. Is Your Debt Collector Real or a Fraudster? Learn How to Tell

4. Check out the FTC's used car guidance for further help, whether you're buying or selling.

5. If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, or a website looks suspicious, check it with Scamio, our AI-powered scam detection tool. Send any texts, messages, links, QR codes, or images to Scamio, which will analyze them to determine if they are part of a scam. Scamio is free and available on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and your web browser. You can also help others stay safe by sharing Scamio with them in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Romania, Australia, and the UK.


Q: How can I tell if a vehicle history website is legitimate? A: Research the website's reputation online by searching for reviews or complaints. Use established agencies like Carfax, AutoCheck, VehicleHistory.com, and VinAudit.

Q: What should I do if a buyer insists on a specific vehicle history report? A: Ask why they need a report from that particular site. If the explanation is unclear, suggest using a well-known and reputable agency instead.

Q: Can I avoid this scam by getting a vehicle history report myself? A: Yes, obtaining a report from a trusted agency and including it in your listing can help attract serious buyers and deter scammers.



Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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