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The FTC has been hearing about a new scam targeting people who are selling their cars online. They’re getting calls or texts from people who claim to be interested in buying the car – but first want to see a car history report. They ask the seller to get the report from a specific website, where the seller needs to enter some information and pay about $20 by credit card for the report. The seller then sends it to the supposed buyer but never hears back. Weird, huh?

 

Well, it gets weirder. When the car sellers go to one of these websites, they’re automatically redirected to sites ending in ‘.vin’ – which seems like it might be related to your car’s vehicle identification number or VIN, right? Scammers hope you’ll think that, but no. In this case, .vin is a relatively new website “domain” – like .com or .org – that groups can apply to use. This domain was intended to be used for sites that relate to wine, since “vin” is the French word for wine, but others are not prevented from using it. So yes, that’s a clever take on .vin for cars, yes, but you still might want to think twice if anyone asks you to do car-related business on a site ending in .vin.

 

So, if you are selling a car online and someone asks you to get a car history report from a specific site, ask why and think twice. You may have no way of knowing who operates the site, especially if it’s one you’ve never heard of. It might be a ruse to get your personal information, including your credit card account number. It also could be a way for companies called “lead generators” to get information, which they sell to third parties for advertising and marketing purposes.

 

Your best bet: play it safe. Go to ftc.gov/usedcars for information on vehicle history reports, recall notices, and how to learn whether a car has been declared salvage. For example, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) operates vehiclehistory.gov, which lists NMVTIS-approved providers of vehicle history reports. Not all vehicle history reports are available through the NMVTIS website. Reports from other providers sometimes have additional information, like accident and repair history.

 

Whether you’re familiar with a company or not, it’s always helpful to see what other people are saying online. Simply enter the name of the company, and words like “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.”

 

To get more information like this, sign up for the FTC's Consumer Information Updates.

319 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

D. Hall
October 19, 2018
Thanks. This was very informative.
Steveiam
October 19, 2018
Very helpful, incisive and clear.
C. Robbins
October 19, 2018
Very useful
MadameX (truly!)
October 19, 2018
Thanks for this timely information as I am planning to buy a used car and this is very helpful. You provide a great service to us because the crooks never give up!
rascal
October 12, 2019

In reply to by MadameX (truly!)

I was also looking for a car on the internet but if you withhold some info you'll get the same results. I omitted my policy expiration date. I did receive a number of calls from local car dealership but they were few then stopped. What I did get, and this was new to me, was a person with an (Indian accent) who insisted their rates were the best. He quoted me back my auto info, info from what I had entered. I caught the scam because the scammer tried to give my current 'policy expiration date.' that I omitted from my online search. When I told him that it was wrong he said he could correct it without a problem. I told him I'd like to look around and could I have his name, the name of his insurance company, and his call back number. I looked up the name of the insurance company, legitimate, checked their employee directory (didn't list his name), then their products.......they didn't sell auto insurance. I'm not sure how it works but I suspect you cancel your policy, go with theirs and then you end up paying them the premium through automatic debit, and realising, too late, that you never had any and they've been siphoning your premium either from your bank account or your check and thus ID theft. Anyone looking on the internet for an auto leave omissions but be aware and expect that little cultural voice from another country to call.
D. Gage
April 29, 2019
Great work I was just contacted by a guy with a Pennsylvania phone number about the Suburban I have for sale and he asked me to get a report at nocrashinfo. com how do I report him? I have his phone number.
Scamn't
September 10, 2019

In reply to by Mm

Good thing I checked. Got I think the same dude from Pennsylvania. 12724353172
Miss
October 22, 2018
Also , although rare, I did get a report from one of the most trusted sites, and the car I was going to buy was listed as clean; no problems whatsoever. That was good info for me as I was ready to buy. However, Im a very careful person and got the idea to call the Car Makers (Toyota) who were very obliging in telling me as much as they knew about this car. Including where I could get service history and where it was serviced. Again very happy to hear. However, as I mentioned, I then asked the agent, "are you SURE there is nothing on this car?" and he said: "no its clean." But then hesitated, said, 'wait a minute' and then said: "Oh I"M so sorry, this car is a write off! " I asked him how this information could have been missed. HE said , well there was one button on his screen he had forgotten to push. How? I dont know. We are all human I guess. I didn't buy the car. Whew!
JoS
October 20, 2018
Great to know - and remember...thanks for the info
Bill
October 21, 2018
Thanks, Very Helpful
emmett
October 22, 2018
I bought a used car from a dealer a year ago,my credit score was 783 no late cc payments for 11 uears.They lied and told me ally was the old gmac financing co.When I took delivery I investigated and found the kickback connection between ally and the dealer.I refinanced online with my banks online service at 4.44% instead of 10% that they had used,saving 5.56%.I searched carfax with the vin and found several cars with the exact vin in other states.Sounds like a double case of fraud.
FTC Staff
October 22, 2018

In reply to by emmett

You can report that to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

chargissc …
October 22, 2018
Very good news to know. Thanks.
Carol14
October 23, 2018
I am getting calls from Becca at Honda. They have my dealership name, and are very interested in me "selling" my car to them. I have a new car. First thing I did was plug in the number I am receiving the calls from...not from the Honda dealership. Sent the manager the message, no "Beca's" working there. We have to be careful all the time.
Johnny
November 28, 2018
Really helpful, I just started to selling my car for the first time ever and I got dozens of these texts or emails about going to some random website. I don't respond at all.
mikeb
April 29, 2019
received an SMS from 661-577-1291 with this scam. The link I was texted redirected to myautohistoryreport. com which solicits $14.99 for a report -- but their sample report is a copy/ripoff of the free vehiclehistory. com. The linked site had referral codes so that the scammer could get his share of people he suckers. Caveat Venditor!
Aprilfool
January 11, 2019
What about the usefulness of reporting the phone number of the scammer on the car history reports? I checked the one I got today and it was from Santa Monica, CA, was suggesting the phony website for the car history. Will reporting those calls make any difference in slowing down or stopping that type of scam?
huey07
January 15, 2019
What this article describes just happened to me this morning! From craigslist I got "ryan" who seems like an interested buyer, but says please contact my actual email, not via craigslist mail bc "craigslist isn't giving me all my messages." In hindsight, a red flag but I fell for it. In seconds "ryan" emailed a link to a vin site, which thankfully I didn't use. Thanks for article.
Catlady
January 10, 2020

In reply to by huey07

Just had the exact same thing happen to me today. Glad I found this site.
Damon325
March 04, 2020

In reply to by huey07

Ryan Dude just called me from 206 area code. Runhistoryreport. com was his scam. Was rude in text. Thank you for this sight. I told him to pound sand.
bumdalex
May 27, 2020

In reply to by Damon325

Just had a."Ryan Clark" attempt this to me too, he has automatic replies the moment you send an email to "his" email. AutoAdviceBlog Also had a "Patrick Boule" attempt this albeit more believably. His scam is globalrecordtests. They all immediately tried to move conversation out of official craigslist server citing any kind of excuse. I have reported both as scam.
Dig
August 25, 2020

In reply to by bumdalex

What if you gave them the VIN and told them to run it and you didn't run the report, are you still vulnerable providing the VIN?
know better now
January 16, 2019
This happened to me and others in my city. The scam jumps to another level if you are as dumb as me and pay for the report. The next step is trying to get you to co-sign a loan or find someone who will as they of course really want your car. I’ve reported it all and have let everyone know but it’s still very annoying. Hope this helps someone to not do it.
Raman kumar
February 11, 2019
I need my all bank account and car sistem stop I have not key not me driving car
Cameron
March 02, 2019
This is being done for motorcycles too. I've gotten requests from 2 different people about buying my motorcycle and getting a report. I was immediately suspicious and when I clicked on the link they gave me, my computer gave me a warning notice about the site.
Whipper
April 29, 2019
I’m in middle of one of these scams now. Posted vehicle on Craigslist. Chris Douglas responds thru e-mail his address (douglaschris 958@ gmail. com) asking if vehicle is still available. I respond yes and he responds he wants a VIN searcg through vehicle. note. com. I respond telling him there are free sites where one can get a VIN report, but he responds saying vehicle. note. com is the only one he trusts and he will re-imburse me for search when he comes and pays cash for vehicle. Obvious scam.
Johannes
July 09, 2019

In reply to by Whipper

I have gotten several of them. I tell them VIN is listed and they are welcome to run a report themselves.
NoNotHere
April 29, 2019
Person texts me from 786-377-6128 says they want to buy vehicle but want a report from instantautohistory(dot)com first. When I say no, but welcome to come see it, they get defensive saying they are about to give me thousands of dollars and it is not unreasonable to ask. I say fine, will pull one from carfax when he gets here in person. Guy disappears!
Javajoe
March 23, 2019
Just happened to my wife tonite. Told her it’s a scam.
da scam
April 29, 2019
I'm in the middle of this scam now. I have a car for sale on Craigslist. 1st email comes through Craigslist system, asking for personal email for her husband. I ask for his telephone number. Then email comes from joelsousa 69@ lycos. com not giving his telephone # but saying his lender needs VIN report from https:// www. infocarfacts. com. That site wants $24.95 by entering c/c # with 3 digit code, and does not offer PayPal. The lack of Paypal made me suspicious. Glad I saw this warning site.
VWgal
May 02, 2019

In reply to by da scam

Yep! I got the same email from "Victoria" via Craig's List asking for my email so her uncle could ask me about my car. I created a gmail account to deal with selling my car so I gave her that and then got an email from joel sousa69 @ gmail. He asked me to pull the car report from carsinfocheck.com which claims to be powered by Experian, but doesn't have an affiliation with them. He was emailing me at weird times too (3-4:00 am usually) which is another huge red flag.
drSaVe
May 24, 2019

In reply to by da scam

WOW, this joelsousa guy is really not stopping. I just an email from him my car posted in craigslist! It started off with a person asking for my "direct email" and then this joelsousa replying that he wants to look at the car, asking whether it has any issues like suspension, or leaking oil etc. Waiting for his VIN check scam email right now. Oh my god these fraudulent scammers need to be caught!
ecc
April 05, 2019
This scam is alive and well apparently because I just had a text string going with a potential buyer and searched for the getautoreport.com site he was asking for and found this web page of info on the ploy. Thank you for posting this information. VIN's are public information and a buyer can pull these reports themselves on their dime.
JayD
March 04, 2020

In reply to by ecc

Was texted today about potenial buyer for my vehicle. Was directed to getautoreport. com, entered credit card info via paypal and retrieved report.....I'll probably be broke by morning!
enlightened
November 29, 2019
this just happened to me while trying to sell my car. I had a gut feeling because they were so pushy about using this website. I gave them a carfax report and they replied "I believe you misunderstood.. I can't use a report from a different company. My lender require a report from the website mentioned in my previous email. To be able to come , see , test and make a deal for it face to face , I need the report so I can pass it to my loan officer and make sure he will allow me to buy it . I need the report because the loan company ask for it .please go to www. infocarfacts. com/ and get one . will not make sense for me to get one because I can`t re use it like you can , you will be able to give it to all you potential buyers , me on the other hand if will not be ok I will gave to look for a new vehicle and get a new report . I know is only $24.99 but if I have to run 5 reports until I find an ok report where will I be ? if the report will be ok you can consider it sold . Thank You! P.S if is about the money I will add the $25 to the final price" after being very pushy only using that specific website.
Jillybean
September 13, 2019

In reply to by enlightened

I just got the exact same email from someone names Thomas with a Lycos email address. Like verbatim! Ugh!! I called him out on his BS though!
Jida
November 29, 2019

In reply to by Jillybean

I got the same thing from edwardrock1980 ...exact wording. Beware!
gmthe
November 29, 2019

In reply to by enlightened

This just happened to me! It started with a person asking for my email for her husband to communicate with me about my car. The guy used the exact same wording. Dennis Marzullo moeganna@ is his name.
jill
January 10, 2020

In reply to by gmthe

The same exact thing same people did it to me too. It totally smelled fishy.
Abiyfxet
February 01, 2020

In reply to by gmthe

"Dennis Marzullo" and "wife" are still up to it. Thanks for paying his babe and email - you helped me avoid this scam! Posted a truck through Craigslist.
RF
March 21, 2020

In reply to by Abiyfxet

I just got an email from him. I unfortunately responded with my cell number. However, decided to look up his email address and saw your comment, thank you! I'd be sure not to respond back!
Mitchell123
March 04, 2020

In reply to by enlightened

After reading this, confirms I'm being scammed. Thankfully I've been suspicious the whole time. A guy sent me an email verbatim. He first said " I will give you cash, no wire transfers," but then said he needed to get it appoved by his loan company. What loan company is going to give cash? I gave him a carfax report, but he said his company needs it from this vinfaxreport website. Website says powered by Experian, but I looked up Experian and they already have their own vin checker on their site. Huge red flags by this time. I told him I will give him $25 cash and he can do the report himself. Haven't heard back since. SCAM
CLG
April 11, 2019
Just happened to me today. Got a phone call and a text trying to get me to pay for a vehicle check for my motorcycle. How do we report the phone number? I never got any emails at all. It was all text. It was also quite obviously not a bot. It was someone who had read my post and referenced by city and the model of my bike. Even texted me a link of a site that at first looked super legit but didn't exist when I googled it.
MAL
July 04, 2019

In reply to by CLG

OMG!! I posted a car for sale on Craigslist and I received a message TODAY with the same exact verbage!! He ( or she) wanted me to get a VIN report from a site they wanted. I cannot believe they use the same message over and over. Isn't there some way to catch these idiots???
James
April 16, 2019
Thanks for the useful inform. It has also just happened to me. They asked me to visit a website to buy a title report. Fortunately, Bank of America had placed a hold on this transaction. I thought there was something wrong, so I google for it. Thanks for your inform again!
nas111
April 21, 2019
I just got an email and text messages from a Ryan 916-536-6643. Wants me to get a car history from vehiclehistoryaudit.com Told him to take a hike.