Should I Give My Vin Number To A Prospective Buyer? [What Are the Risks]

Should I give my VIN number to a prospective buyer? Many people ask this question when they want to sell their cars. The short answer is yes.

There is nothing wrong with giving your VIN number to a prospective customer or a car dealer. Don’t feel uncomfortable when they ask for it, but you should be careful who you share it with.

Giving out your VIN number builds trust and helps you get the best price for your car. It is safe, though not risk-free. Fraudsters or criminals can clone your VIN or use it for other criminal activities.

Read on to find out more details about a VIN number and whether or not it is safe to share it with a prospective customer.

What is a VIN Number?

should i send my vin number to a prospective buyerThe vehicle identification number (VIN) is a unique 11-character code that identifies every vehicle on the planet. You can visualize it as your DNA or fingerprints. A VIN contains car details and its ownership history.

But why is a VIN important? Since you can know the vehicle’s history, it becomes easy to price if you need to sell it. There are many online platforms where you can search for a car’s ownership history using a VIN, depending on your state or country.

Mechanics, law enforcement officers, car dealers, and insurance companies rely on the VIN to track the vehicle. The car can be traced back to its owner from the registration records obtained when registering it at the dealership.

The VIN number also proves ownership or legitimacy. This number appears on the insurance and title, with your name as the owner.

How to Check and Find Your VIN

Your VIN is not a private number. Someone can access it by walking close to the car, depending on its location. Most car manufacturers print it in at least two places, which may include the following:

  • The driver-side dashboard
  • The driver’s door frame or pillar
  • Under the hood
  • The rear frame
  • The VIN number can also be accessed by an OBD2 diagnostic tool. It is stored in your car’s computer memory, where the OBD2 scanner can read and display it to a technician.
  • Lastly, you can find your car’s VIN on its title or log book if you are the rightful owner.
Read More:  What do D1, D2, D3, and D4 Mean in Automatic Cars?

Checking your VIN becomes easy, but what information does it contain? Why should you not give it to anyone who asks for it, yet it is publicly available?

What Information Can You Obtain from a VIN?

Your VIN number is a wealth of information. If you can decipher it, you will be surprised at the amount of data it has.

Fortunately, your VIN number only has information about the car itself. It does not contain your personal information. It reveals the car’s make, model, features, year of construction, and manufacturer. But how do you interpret your VIN?

  • The first character indicates the country where the car was made. Cars are manufactured worldwide, and it is good to know where a particular automobile was manufactured. Some automakers take the first two characters of the VIN to represent the country.
  • The second or third character, depending on the car manufacturer, identifies the manufacturer of the car. This information helps in the valuation of your vehicle.
  • The fourth through eighth characters specify vehicle features, which helps to know if the car has been modified. It also tells existing safety features in case of an accident investigation.
  • The 9th character shows the legitimacy of the VIN itself. Investigators use it as a check digit.
  • The 10th character shows the model year, which tells the vehicle’s age. This is crucial when you are selling or buying a used car.
  • The 11th character tells the specific factory the vehicle came from. This information is crucial when a recall has to be made due to a universal defect since a car manufacturer can have different assembly lines.
  • The remaining characters are numbers unique to every vehicle. They are the vehicle’s ID.

Is It Safe to Give Out the VIN to A Prospective Buyer?

Yes. You can safely give your Vin number to a prospective buyer. It comes with many benefits. Prospects only want it to prove legitimacy and ensure the deal is clean.

VIN on its own is not considered personal information. As mentioned, it only contains the car details but not your personal data, such as credit card numbers.

However, your VIN is often paired with your insurance. That can make someone track you back and know your address and other information. But you have nothing to worry about because most buyers are not malicious.

Benefits of Sharing Your VIN with a Prospective Buyer

It is a good idea to share your VIN number with prospective customers because of its benefits. You can gain in the following ways:

1. Get a Fair Deal

The vehicle’s VIN shows the car’s age and specifies many of its features. This makes it possible to set a fair price for your car, and the prospective buyer will also know your vehicle’s value.

Your VIN makes you sell your car at the best price, even if you are not an experienced car dealer. The price tag you set won’t be far off the market value.

2. Creates Trust

The only way to build trust between you and the buyer is by proving VIN to legitimize the process. You should prove you are the outright owner of the car. And what is a better way to do that than by providing your VIN number?

Potential buyers will know they are getting a clean deal by providing a VIN number. And that builds trust and increases the chances of closing the sales.

3. Get the Right Buyer

The car market is full of all types of buyers. You cannot tell who is genuine and who is a fraud. That is the main problem buyers face.

Read More:  How Does A Smart Car Collect Your Data?

But if you provide a VIN number, you can easily scare away tricksters and attract genuine buyers who want a clean and fair deal.

Risks of Sharing Your VIN

Providing your VIN number to potential buyers is not risk-free, although the importance outweighs the drawbacks. The following are the possible dangers of sharing your VIN number with prospective buyers:  

1. VIN Cloning

Vin cloning is one of the most common risks of letting your VIN go public. It is also referred to as car identity theft, meaning using your legally-registered Vin on a stolen or salvaged vehicle.

The criminals can resale the vehicle with cloned Vin to unsuspecting buyers or put them to personal use.

Vin cloning can give you trouble with the authorities. And if found, your car can be confiscated, and you may be taken in for further questioning.

2. False Tax Returns on Your VIN

Someone can possibly use your car’s VIN to file a tax return. Since this is a one-time process, it will give you problems when you legitimately try to file the returns yourself.

Your tax return approval is challenging if your VIN number has been used. By law, tax returns should be unique for every individual. Sharing a VIN is out of the question!

3. Owner’s Identity Exposure

Although your vehicle’s VIN is not private, you should guard it because someone can use it to track you. Each Vin is linked to the car owner. And if you have insurance, it can also include your address and other personal details.

With your VIN public, anyone can track you without your notice. So, don’t disclose your Vin to anyone for privacy reasons.

How to Protect Your VIN Number

Anyone who walks past your car can read your Vin just by looking through the windshield. So, why is it crucial to protect it? The answer is apparent.

You don’t want someone to clone your VIN, file a tax return with your VIN, or track you using it. But how do you protect your Vin if anyone can access it?

Read More:  Can You Drive Long Distance With A Patched Tire [You Must Know]

It is better to keep the number to a minimum. Don’t share your VIN on forums or online marketplaces when selling your car. Insist on giving it to the customer who requests it.

Alternatively, you can ask to meet the customer in person to view the car and access its details. The prospective buyer can then read the VIN through the windshield or at any other location where it is printed.

Another option is not trusting anyone on the phone asking for your VIN. Treat everyone as a suspect, even if the number seems legitimate.

Some people may call you and pretend they are law enforcement officers or your insurance company. It is possible to impersonate anyone on the phone. So, don’t just fall for such tricks.

A police officer will never ask for your VIN. They will come to your property and ask you to read and record it if they need it.


Can someone find my address with my VIN number?

Yes. Police officers and your insurance company have your VIN attached to your address. An ordinary person cannot access your address with your VIN. But if they collaborate with the groups of people mentioned, they can get it. However, this is an invasion of privacy and is against the law.

Can you run a VIN to see if it’s stolen?

Yes. You can know if a vehicle has been reported stolen or salvage when you search through state-provided resources or databases. Police officers or insurance companies are responsible for providing such information to the public to help curb fraud or theft.

Should a buyer ask a car seller for a VIN number?

Yes. A buyer should ask a car seller for a VIN to conduct a background check on the vehicle. It is the only way a buyer can know if the deal is clean and legit and to avoid buying stolen or salvaged vehicles. If you are the buyer, ask the car seller to provide the VIN or view the car and take the VIN number.

Why do car dealerships ask for a VIN number?

VIN number helps in the valuation of the car. A car dealership will ask for it to determine its value and also to know if you are the legitimate owner or not. Don’t suspect foul play if car dealerships ask you for a VIN. They probably want to confirm the above or know the history of your car.

Read More:  75W90 vs 80W90: Comparing Gear Oil Specifications and Uses

Can you get personal information from a VIN number?

No. The VIN number only describes the vehicle, stating its make, year, model, manufacturer, country of manufacture, and specific factory where it is manufactured. It can only have your personal information through insurance and registration. But that info is safe with police officers and the insurance company.

Final Remarks

Your car’s VIN is important when you want to sell it. If a prospective buyer asks for it, you can safely share it. That will help you build trust, get a good deal, and close sales more quickly.

But don’t just give your VIN to anyone or post it online on forums and car sales marketplaces. Some people can use it maliciously, which can cause problems with the authorities.

VIN cloning is one of the most common risks of letting your Vin go public. But some people can also use it to file a tax return, though the chances are rare. Just protect your VIN and keep it as private as possible.

Leave a Comment