One of the common questions when selling or buying a used car is whether it is safe to share the VIN with a potential buyer/seller. In other words, people are concerned that giving it away may somehow put their personal information in danger.
However, that is not the case. Providing the VIN is desirable if not necessary when selling or buying a car. It makes the process quicker and more transparent.
Data security has become a huge issue lately and the need to be cautious about who you share your details with is perfectly understandable. Let’s explain how this number works, so you can be at ease about the whole thing.
What’s a VIN Number?
You can think of a VIN as an ID number of a specific vehicle. The abbreviation stands for the Vehicle Identification Number and is unique to just one car. Furthermore, motorcycles, trucks, and all other vehicles also have a VIN.
So, every car has a VIN just like every person has a social security number. It consists of 17 digits and letters and is assigned to the vehicle in the production process. VIN can serve as a birth certificate of a car as it contains a lot of useful information:
• The country or region where the car was made
• Vehicle attributes (model, type, style, etc.)
• Technical characteristics
• The year of making
• The factory code (the actual plant which manufactured the car)
As you can see, VIN is a collection of data you need to check when purchasing a car.
Where to Find the VIN Number
The manufacturer stamps the VIN on several places while assembling the vehicle. The most obvious place is on the dashboard. Look at where the dashboard meets the windshield on the driver’s side, and you will find your VIN.
Depending on the model of the car, there are a couple more spots where the VIN is stamped. Also, the VIN will be on the vehicle insurance card and the title records. You can check how to find the number by watching the video below.
So, as you probably figured out by now, you can find a VIN easily — which means that others can too.
VIN vs. VRN
The vehicle registration number is similar to the VIN because it is also unique to just one vehicle. However, registration number can change, while the VIN always stays the same.
VRN is the same as your license plate number, so you can personalize it. If you move to another state or country, your plates will also change. However, a VIN is like a fingerprint of a car and cannot be altered. For further reading on the vehicle registration number, you can check this article.
Why Is VIN Important?
By looking at the VIN, you can examine the history of the vehicle and obtain all the info you need before buying it. What’s more, the complete documentation must be consistent if the car is legally clean.
First, the VIN must appear on the Certificate of Title, tying the owner to the car. Then, it must be the same on all the documents and on the car itself. Only if this is the case, you can be sure that your purchase is safe.
Potential Dangers of Sharing Your VIN
Considering the fact that VIN cloning has become an issue lately, you can never be too cautious. Car thieves can use a VIN from a vehicle of the same type and model and assign it to a stolen car. Disguising the stolen vehicle with a legitimate VIN makes it much easier to sell.
While it is not complicated to forge the documentation, it is much more difficult to change the number on the car. Thus, cross-checking the papers with the info on the vehicle is crucial.
VIN and Personal Information
Though the title links the owner to the VIN, it is impossible to extract any personal data from the documents. They contain valid information about the car, but not about the owner. Your social security number, credit card or bank account details will never be displayed.
Although your name will appear on the title, no one will be able to find your address, phone number, or email. In case of foul play, the only way to get to previous owners is through the authorities. In other words, the security of your data is solid.
To make a car purchase fast and transparent, you should share your VIN with the potential buyers. Doing so will allow them to check the car’s history and to make sure everything is in order. It saves time and makes you look serious and straightforward.
Many people prefer to go through all the documents on their own and it is something you should respect. After all, it is very easy to get the VIN. Even if you decide to withhold it, the chances are that they are going to find it themselves.
Moreover, providing the VIN can only imply that you mean business and that you have nothing to hide.
Ways to Check the VIN
If you happen to be on the other side of the purchase, i.e., you are buying a vehicle, checking the VIN is a must. It will give you all the details and help you decide on how much you would pay for the car.
With all the possibilities that the internet has to offer, you can check everything online. If you are not into peeping through the windshield, you can search through the license plate number.
Also, you can get a VIN decoder. It’s a useful app that assists in decoding the number. You can have a look at some very interesting products that can assist with VIN decoding.
In the end, sharing your VIN looks like a safe and polite thing to do. It’s a sign of goodwill and it makes you look more trustworthy. Since it’s not top-secret info, there’s no reason to hold it back.
Most importantly, it does not put your personal data in jeopardy. There’s no reason against providing your VIN to the potential buyers. It only makes things more efficient and transparent.