The VIN on Each Vehicle is Unique

The VIN is the code that identifies a specific car. VIN serves as the unique car fingerprint as no two vehicles possess the exact VIN. The majority of Vehicle Identification Numbers are unique combinations of 17-digit numbers identifying each specific vehicle. The 17 alphanumeric characters are in reality codes that indicate the vehicle's model and make, manufacturer value, manufacturing location and sequence number, and optional equipment. The VIN can be assigned by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), titling/registration agencies, or secondary finishers or manufacturers. The basis of giving the VIN is the ISO-3779-1983, which ensures universal identification globally. The Vehicle Identification Number must appear on the vehicle’s part that cannot be removed. Characters in the VIN are either an alphabetical letter or a number between 0 and 9. To prevent mistaken characters or to tamper, Q, I, and O cannot be used.

Finding your VIN

VIN plates are located on the left side of the dashboard. While seated on the driver's seat, you can spot it on the dashboard in front of the wheel. Likewise, you can be able to locate it while standing outside and looking through the windshield. Some manufacturers stamp the VIN or parts of it on the body plate. The plate is usually attached to the firewall in the engine compartment. The VIN can occasionally appear on the car frame. To spot it, crouch in front of the car on the driver's side. Though not often, some manufacturers stamp the VIN on the spare tire in the trunk. The VIN must appear on the Federal Safety Certification Label on the driver's side door in all new vehicles. If you cannot spot the VIN completely, you can call the manufacturer or dealer and ask where it is located. Likewise, the VIN is on the car's title document on the front of the title, just near the top.

Sections of a VIN Number

The first digit of the VIN represents the country of origin. For example, digits 1, 4, and 5 represent the U.S.A. Some alphabets represent the manufacturer. The 3rd digit, combined with the first two, identifies the vehicle type. Is it an SUV or truck? The vehicle Descriptor gives information like the vehicle’s body type, model, transmission, and engine. Digits 4-8 represent the vehicle descriptor information. The 9th digit is the check digit or security code. The manufacturer must generate this code to prove the whole number’s authenticity. Digits 10 through 17 are the VIS. The 10th digit represents the model year; for example, if the 10th digit is a 'D,' it means the automobile is a 2013 model. The 11th digit is the manufacturer’s unique plant code representing the plant in which the vehicle is built. Lastly, the numerals 12-17 describe the vehicle's production number.

Can Identity Thieves use a VIN?

The answer is YES. Thieves have been known to use VIN to look for insurance claims, register stolen vehicles and make your car’s duplicate keys. VIN differentiates your vehicle against others of the same model and make. Using a single VIN, thieves can register several other vehicles. You will only realize this until you need to use the number, like moving to a different state or changing your insurance. Some thieves will use a VIN to steal a car in the dealerships. They give out your car’s Personal Identifiable Information and, while test driving, cunningly makes away with the vehicle. The information binds you with the stolen car. Your vehicle's PII can also be used to get car loans. This leaves you with debt while they get the car.

According to the police, vehicle PII theft is prevalent but preventable. To start with, you must always lock your car to prevent thieves from accessing it. Next, always keep your glove box locked. This makes it difficult for thieves to reach your essential paperwork. Also, ensure you do not leave any valuables in the car. Necessary paperwork, laptop, phones, and anything that can attract a thief should not be left in the vehicle. Do not give thieves reasons to break into your car. Lastly, be careful where you park your vehicle. Ensure it is a safe and well-lit place to prevent it from becoming a target for thieves.