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Used Car Scam (The Today Show)

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Uploaded on May 4, 2009

Today Investigates the Nation's biggest used car scam.

Buying a used car? Don't just take the seller's word about the car's history.

You can use a car's vehicle identification number (VIN) to get information including whether the car is stolen or has been in a major accident or a flood.

Since Jan. 30, consumers have been able to research cars through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), a program of the U.S. Department of Justice. The online database includes information for about 73% of the country's auto population, gleaned from state agencies, junk- and salvage-yard organizations, and insurance companies.

Currently information from 38 states is available, and all states are required to fully participate by Jan. 1, 2010.

Visit nmvtis.gov, click on one of the listed providers and follow the prompts. Expect to pay between $2 and $4 for a report, because the authorizing law required that federal funds not be used for this database.

Used-car reports from commercial companies, like Carfax and Experian's AutoCheck, have a higher price tag but draw information from a wider variety of sources.

A single report from AutoCheck costs $14.99 (unlimited access for 60 days costs $24.99) and includes information from all states as well as from some sources not found in the NMVTIS database.

When buying a used car, you need to verify the VIN so you are not a victim of this scam:

Here's How to Find Your Car's VIN

Locate your car's unique DNA - its unique vehicle identification number. VINs are normally located in several locations on a car, but the most common places are:

- On the door frame/door post of the front doors (usually driver's but sometimes passenger's)
- On the dash near the windshield
- On the engine itself (machined pad on front of engine)
- On the car's firewall
- In the left-hand inner wheel arch
- On the steering wheel/steering column
- On the radiator support bracket

There is a chart that gives further information (by car line) on both the location of the VIN plate and which character in your VIN represents your year of production and specific engine on a used car website, but they have limited the listings to only import cars since those are the car lines in which they specialize. http://www.autohausaz.com/html/vehicl...

Alternatively, you can call the consumer relations department for the vehicle manufacturer or visit a local new car dealer and ask for the location of the VIN
It is often etched into multiple locations on any vehicle.

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