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Protect Yourself Against Purchasing and Insuring a Stolen Re-VINned Vehicle

In today’s complex world of vehicle transactions, the threat of purchasing a stolen vehicle, especially one that has been re-VINned (Vehicle Identification Number), is a very real concern. In the City of Toronto, for example, “police reported 9,606 vehicle thefts in 2022, a 192 percent increase over 2015.” (Source: With advancements in technology, thieves have become increasingly savvy at altering VIN numbers, making it difficult for unsuspecting buyers to discern the true history of a vehicle. This not only puts your investment at risk but also potentially exposes you to legal ramifications and safety hazards. So, how can you protect yourself against this growing problem? Let’s delve into some essential steps to safeguard your investment and ensure peace of mind.


Before making any purchase, arm yourself with knowledge. Utilize online resources such as vehicle history report services, which can provide valuable insights into a vehicle’s past, including any reported thefts or salvage titles.

You can also obtain a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP) through ServiceOntario. “The seller is legally required to provide a used vehicle information package (UVIP) to a buyer when you sell a pre-owned vehicle. A buyer can also purchase a UVIP either prior to the sale or at the time of registering the transfer of the vehicle at a ServiceOntario centre.”

This package contains:
• Vehicle details (including the year, make, model, colour, body type, cylinders and power)
• Vehicle registration history in Ontario (including all present and previous owners, their city of residence and odometer reading)
• Vehicle lien information to ensure there are no active liens
• Retail Sales Tax (RST) information - the average wholesale value of the vehicle;
• Last known status of the condition of the vehicle:
• Including if it is registered as unfit and needs a Safety Standards Certificate to be registered
• If the vehicle has been reported as wrecked
• Bill of sale information

Inspect the VIN

Physically inspect the VIN located on the dashboard, door frame, and engine bay for signs of tampering or alteration. Look for inconsistencies such as mismatched numbers, uneven spacing, or signs of scratching or repainting around the VIN area, which could indicate fraudulent activity.

Verify Documentation

Request and thoroughly review all documentation related to the vehicle, including the title, registration, and maintenance records. Pay close attention to any discrepancies or irregularities, and ensure that the information matches the vehicle’s VIN and description.

Professional Inspection

Consider hiring a qualified mechanic or vehicle inspection service to conduct a comprehensive inspection of the vehicle. They can identify any hidden issues or red flags that may not be apparent to the untrained eye, including signs of previous theft or extensive damage.

Be Wary of Deals Too Good to Be True

Exercise caution when encountering deals that seem unusually low or too good to pass up. While it’s natural to seek a bargain, deeply discounted prices could be a warning sign of a stolen or compromised vehicle.

Purchase from Reputable Sources

Whenever possible, buy from reputable dealerships or private sellers with a proven track record of honesty and integrity. Avoid purchasing from individuals or establishments with questionable reputations or suspicious sales practices. If purchasing from a dealership, search the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council’s database to ensure the dealership and salesperson are registered.

Verify Insurance Coverage

Before finalizing any transaction, confirm that the vehicle can be insured and that the insurance coverage is valid. Some insurers may refuse to provide coverage for vehicles with dubious histories or altered VINs, leaving you financially vulnerable in the event of an accident or theft. Erion Insurance brokers are happy to answer your questions.

Legal Protection

Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations pertaining to vehicle transactions, including the rights and responsibilities of buyers and sellers. In case of any disputes or legal issues, having a clear understanding of your legal recourse can help protect your interests.

Stay Vigilant

Remain vigilant throughout the purchasing process and trust your instincts. If something feels off or raises suspicion, don’t hesitate to walk away from the deal. It’s better to err on the side of caution than to risk falling victim to fraud or criminal activity.

In conclusion, safeguarding yourself against purchasing and insuring a stolen re-VINned vehicle requires diligence, thoroughness, and a healthy dose of skepticism. By conducting thorough research, verifying documentation, seeking professional inspections, and exercising caution, you can minimize the risk of falling prey to fraudulent schemes and protect your investment for years to come. Remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when it comes to safeguarding your hard-earned assets. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Erion Insurance broker if you need support.

Check out our blog post from January 2023: How to Protect Yourself Against Auto Theft