What is VIN Cloning?
Have you ever heard of VIN cloning? This is very similar to when somebody copies the identity of your car and attaches it to another vehicle. If that’s not bad enough, the cloned VIN will usually get attached to a car that was stolen.
So why is this bad? It’s because if somebody unknowingly buys a car that has a cloned VIN affixed to it and it gets discovered, that car owner will then run the risk of getting his car confiscated by the authorities. What’s more, any loans the car owner took on to pay for the car will still have to be paid. So imagine yourself without your car and still needing to pay off your car loan. It’s not a good situation, right?
Furthermore, if you are the legitimate car owner that got his VIN cloned, you will also run the risk of getting accused of any number of crimes or violations that were originally committed by the vehicle with the cloned VIN. You could have parking tickets, traffic violations, and even car accidents on your record – all without you in the driver’s seat. What makes it even worse is that trying to prove it wasn’t you who was driving or it wasn’t your car at all can be a terribly long and expensive process.
How does VIN cloning work?
VIN cloning typically happens when a stolen vehicle is involved. In this case, the VIN number that was originally installed by the manufacturer is taken off the stolen vehicle and replaced with a different one that was “cloned” off another car. The second VIN is a valid and genuine number from a vehicle that is of similar make and model to the stolen vehicle.
The purpose of cloning the VIN is to enable the stolen vehicle to be registered in another province. Of course, those who are planning to do so will also have additional fake documents to prove their “ownership” of that car. So for example, if the stolen car was originally registered in Manitoba, having a cloned VIN attached to it will now allow the car to be registered using a different “identity” in another province like the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario.
A lot of criminals that clone cars are also looking to sell these cloned vehicles both to knowing and unknowing buyers. As you can understand, illegitimate car sales like these produce negative effects on the economy and cause millions of dollars’ worth of losses to the industry, the consumers, and the insurers.
How do I protect myself from VIN cloning?
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police does not keep accurate statistics regarding the extent of this problem, but they do advise car buyers to always be alert and aware of potential scams by unscrupulous dealers. Local governments are also taking steps to provide resources to assist consumers. For example, in Ontario, the Ministry of Transportation gets updated regularly by the police whenever a vehicle is declared as “stolen”. There is also the Canadian Police Information Centre database which lets consumers know important information such as whether a particular vehicle was written off, stolen, had undergone flood damage, etc.
There is always the risk of buying not only used cars, but also boats, snowmobiles, and bobcats that have had their VIN numbers cloned or are carrying faked VINs. Be especially careful regarding cars that are being sold by personal sellers through online ads. As much as possible, buy cars from a well-established, reputable car dealer and check the VIN with the official websites such as Canadian Police Information Centre. VinAudit Canada’s vehicle history reports can also help you catch VIN cloning issues by checking vehicle specifications, car stolen records, registration history, and odometer readings from official sources.
It would help to consider these to avoid VIN cloning: