GEICO consumer fraud alert—VIN fraud on the rise

Washington, D.C., Mar. 12, 2016 – For many consumers, buying a car can be stressful because of all the decisions involved in the process. You need to think about the price range, safety ratings, make and model, gas or electric or hybrid, and financing.

Because it's even more daunting when shopping for a quality used car, GEICO is offering key guidelines for consumers to consider before they buy.

But first there are a few things you need to understand about VIN numbers—vehicle identification numbers. Every car is built with its own unique VIN number stamped in metal somewhere on the frame.

These distinctive numbers can be fraudulently changed—either on the vehicle or on paper documents—to hide the fact that the car has been stolen.

This method of selling stolen cars to unsuspecting consumers is known as VIN fraud, or car cloning. It is extremely hard to detect.

GEICO recommends you keep these five things in mind to avoid becoming a victim of VIN fraud:

  1. Select a reputable car dealer – Read dealer reviews, check with the Better Business Bureau, or get personal referrals from friends and family to help choose a seller you can trust.
  2. Have a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchasing – Examine the VIN plate for signs it may have been tampered with.
  3. Inspect all title and ownership documents – Conduct a title search to confirm ownership. The Federal Government's National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) can be used to access title documents and other important vehicle information. Be sure the seller's information matches that listed on the title. Confirm the VIN found on the car is consistent with all documents and records as well.
  4. Get a detailed used car history report – Verify car history, past ownership, accident history, liens, maintenance and flood damage. Before purchasing a car, be aware of its full history to help you make a more informed decision. Car history reports can also be obtained from NMVTIS or online sources such as
  5. Perform a VIN check – Visit the National Insurance Crime Bureau website to access the VIN check feature. This tool can help determine if a vehicle has been reported stolen or salvaged.

Visit GEICO's Information Center for more car buying tips.

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger car insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of car insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company is pleased to serve more than 16 million private passenger customers, insuring more than 27 million vehicles (car & cycle).

GEICO policyholders can make policy changes, report claims, print insurance ID cards, and purchase additional products by logging into their car insurance policy. Policyholders can also connect to GEICO through GEICO Mobile, reach a representative over the phone or visit a GEICO local agent.

GEICO also provides insurance quotes on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), boats, travel trailers and motorhomes (RVs). Coverage for life, homes and apartments is written by non-affiliated insurance companies and is secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. Commercial car insurance and personal umbrella protection are also available.

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