VIN Tips

​The vehicle identification number (VIN) tells the whole story of a car, but a criminal may have altered it to hide the fact that the car was stolen or flood-damaged. Here’s how to review a car’s VIN to ensure you’re getting what you think you’re getting. ​

​​​​​​A criminal may try to hide a car’s history by:

  • Removing the VIN plate
  • Scratching out the VIN
  • Altering the VIN (for instance, turning a 3 into an 8)
  • Replacing a real VIN with a made-up (or fake?) one
  • Replacing a real VIN with a copy of another car’s VIN (this process is sometimes called “cloning”)

​How to Review a Car’s VIN 

When checking a car, make sure the VIN is identical in each place it appears:

  • ​ Compare the VIN plate on the dashboard with the one at the bottom of the driver’s door post. (If the VIN is not on the driver’s door post, refer to the owner’s manual.)
  • Compare the VINs on the car to the VIN on the ownership permit.
  • Compare all of the above numbers to the VIN on the car’s pink liability card (proof of insurance).

​Find a VIN Discrepancy? Here’s Who to Contact.

If the VIN on the vehicle ownership permit doesn’t match the VIN plate on the dashboard: 

  • ​Contact the motor vehicle licensing/registration office in your province or territory right away.

If the VIN on the pink liability card doesn’t match the VIN plate on the dashboard: 

  • Contact your insurance agent, broker or insurance company or local police or local police for both situations right away.

Worried a Car Might Be Flood-Damaged?  

  • Use IBC’s free VIN Verify Service to check if a car was reported as flood-damaged and non-repairable by a participating IBC member insurance company.