What is VIN Cloning?
There are thousands of honest used car dealers who take great care to ensure that all of their vehicles are safe, undamaged, and fairly priced. Unfortunately, there are also more unscrupulous sellers who used underhanded practices when selling used vehicles. For instance, some dealerships may go so far as to place a different Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on a used car in order to hide its history. In most cases, this scheme is intended to cover up that a vehicle is suffering from serious mechanical problems that have not been addressed, has been in a severe collision, or is stolen. This type of conduct is unlawful. If you believe that you were the victim of VIN cloning, it is important to consult with an experienced used car fraud lawyer who can help you seek compensation from the dealership that wronged you.
Defining VIN Cloning
VIN cloning involves the stealing of the identity of a legitimately owned vehicle to hide the true provenance of a different car and is achieved by prying off the manufacturer installed VIN and replacing it. In most cases, the second VIN plate that is used is actually legitimate, but came from a different car of a similar make and model. Creating fake ownership documents or falsely registering the vehicle in another state, usually completes the VIN cloning process. Once registered anew, a vehicle with a cloned VIN can be sold to unsuspecting customers who may not realize that they are purchasing a vehicle that sustained serious damage in a collision, is defective, is stolen, or is otherwise damaged.
What Happens if I Purchase a Used Vehicle with a Cloned VIN?
The impact of purchasing a vehicle with a cloned VIN can be significant. For instance, if a vehicle is discovered to have a cloned VIN, it will usually be confiscated by authorities, but the owner will still be liable for outstanding loans. Buyers could also end up being accused of offenses actually committed by the person who owns the original vehicle that was unlawfully cloned. Fortunately, when a person purchases a vehicle from a used car dealership and then discovers that it was cloned, he or she can seek damages from that entity under Pennsylvania law, which prohibits the defrauding of customers by dealerships through the use of unfair advertising and sales practices.
Protecting Yourself from VIN Cloning
Because VIN cloning can have such serious consequences for buyers, it is important for those who are in the market for a used vehicle to take certain precautionary steps, including:
- Obtaining a copy of the vehicle’s history report;
- Checking the VIN plate on the dashboard for evidence of tampering;
- Checking paperwork, such as the vehicle title, for incorrect spellings or other mistakes;
- Ensuring that the VIN on the title matches the VIN on the vehicle; and
- Checking that the VIN plate on the dashboard matches the VIN sticker on the driver’s side door.
If you took these precautions, but were still defrauded, it is important to speak with an experienced used car fraud attorney who can explain your legal options.
Contact our Philadelphia Used Car Fraud Legal Team Today
To schedule a consultation with a dedicated Philadelphia used car fraud attorney, please contact Louis S. Schwartz at CONSUMERLAWPA.com today.