Is giving out the VIN Number to a buyer safe?

In our current digitalized age, where every single piece of information is sensitive and very valuable, it’s important for us to be cautious of what and where we share. When you are trying to sell your car for example, the question if it’s safe to give out the VIN of your vehicle to potential buyers often comes up. In this article, we are going to go over the potential risks, but also the benefits involved in sharing your car’s VIN.

Think about the last time ever sold or bought a car. Was there a moment of hesitation when the VIN popped up into the conversation? This very important 17-character code is the DNA of your vehicle, and the valuable information it holds is very valuable.

So the question that we are going to need an answer to is –  is it really safe to give out the VIN to a potential buyer?  To answer as short as possible – Yes, it is safe. The VIN, which is the ‘’DNA’’ of every vehicle, in itself is already publicly available. On a big part of the vehicles, it is usually visible through the windshield on the vehicle’s dashboard, or even on a sticker inside the driver’s side door. After all, this transparency isn’t accidental – it’s designed to allow for easy and simple identification and also verification of the vehicle’s history and most importantly, its authenticity.

While the VIN is a helpful way of building trust between the parties, at the same time understanding the risks that come with sharing it is also important. While a VIN doesn’t itself reveal any personal information about previous or current vehicle owners, if fallen into the wrong hands, it could potentially be used as a piece of a much larger puzzle, that is used to track down more sensitive information. For example, combined with other sensitive personal information, a VIN might be used in identity theft schemes or other fraudulent activities.

But before you decide if you are willing to share your car’s VIN, let us dive deeper and explore what it actually means to give out this information and how it can potentially impact both sides – the buyer and the seller.



The Importance and Safety of Sharing VIN Numbers

The Vehicle Identification Number (or VIN as we refer to for short) of a car is more than just a simple combination of characters – it is a comprehensive and detailed archive of the vehicle’s story; from the day it was manufactured. This unique identification tool, provides full access to a detailed history, which is a very important aspect, in order to be able to make well-informed decision – either for selling or buying a vehicle.


Background check gathered from the VIN


    •  Accident History – The VIN number reveals if a car has been in any accidents, during its lifetime. This is a very important factor for assessing the vehicle’s overall safety and how reliable you can expect it to be. There could also be the potential risk of this car to become a costly mistake in the future.
    • Repair Records – Details about all the vehicle repairs and maintenance can also show you how well the car was maintained and also if there were any issues that were left unfixed for longer.
    • Theft Reports – Having the information whether a car was ever reported to be stolen, or involved in some criminal activity, could be vital information for you not to be cautious of having problems with the Law in the future, only because of the vehicle you decided to buy.


Case Study: “A classic Car’s Hidden Story Unveiled

Johnathan, who was a classic car collector, used a VIN number to discover the secrets of a 1960 Ford Mustang he bought. The background check left him very surprised –  the previous owner of his new Mustang had a remarkable racing background. Because of this, the car’s value increased greatly, so did John’s appreciation for history.


The Public nature of VINs


    • Visibility –  It’s not random that VIN numbers are made to be visible on the dashboard or a door frame of a vehicle. It is a requirement for the ability of a quick identification and verification of a vehicle.
    • Accessibility – Since VIN numbers are clearly exposed, this means that they are designed to be shared and used freely.


VIN’s and their importance for Buyers


    • Verification –  When looking for a potential purchase, people want to get their hands on the VIN as soon as possible, so they can make an informed decision by using the VIN to be able to get access to services like Carfax or AutoCheck. This allows potential buyers to make sure the information provided for a vehicle is correct.
    • Informed Decisions – The main purpose of a VIN background check is to allow buyers to make educated decisions, potentially saving them from some costly mistakes and headaches down the road.


Testimonial: “How a VIN background check saved me from a very bad purchase

Emily, a first-time car buyer, shares how a VIN check informed her about the undisclosed accident history of a potential car she was in negotiations of buying. This valuable information, that she was able to obtain from the VIN report, saved her from a very bad investment and a lot of headaches. This story shows us the importance of a VIN background check, in order to be able to make an informed decision.


Impact of the VIN number on Insurance and Financing and its risks

Going beyond aiding in making a purchase decision, the VIN number plays a very important role in terms of the insurance and financing aspects of vehicle ownership. Insurance companies primarily use VIN’s to be able to assess the risk factors which are going to be associated with a vehicle – it’s accident history, its model and manufacturer. All of this information can influence insurance premiums, as insurers consider the car’s safety records, the probability of theft based on its history and replacement costs.

Additionally, when financing a vehicle, lenders will often require the VIN to be able to verify the car’s identity and its condition. They use all the gathered data to figure out the real value of the vehicle, which in turns could also greatly affect loan terms and interest rates. Understanding this connection between the VIN and the potential financial risks it may bring is crucial for both parties when making a transaction – both for the buyers and sellers of a vehicle, since it directly impacts the total costs of owning it.


Privacy concerns when sharing VIN’s


    • Safe sharing – While VIN’s are meant to be shared purposefully for due-diligence, it is important to share them with hopefully genuine, interested buyers. Everybody must be cautious when deciding to share VIN numbers indiscriminately.
    • Avoidance of public platforms – It is generally best practice to avoid sharing any VIN numbers on public forums or social media, as you never know who exactly this information is going to reach to, and you will prevent any potential misuse of it.


Best practices for sharing VIN numbers


    • Contextual Sharing – Always making sure to share the VIN only in the context of a sale or a serious inquiry, preferably in private communications.
    • Precautionary measures – Be mindful of the information that is attached to the VIN number you are sharing. Make sure that any sensitive data, like for example personal addresses linked to the vehicle’s service records, are not accessible.


Technologies and how they affect VIN Tracking – Simplicity and Safety


    • In the 21st century, VIN tracking is as simple as it gets. Thanks to our modern technology, VIN decoding apps and online databases are publicly available. Those apps and databases simplify the process of vehicle history checks. These tools give the freedom for anybody who is willing to and has a VIN number, to input it and receive a whole VIN report of a vehicle in the matter of minutes.



    • Legal Regulations – Specific government laws in the United States and in Europe ensure the safe use of VIN numbers, making sure to establish a balance between transparency and privacy protection is established at all times. These laws are used to control what personal information is connected to VIN Numbers, focusing on their use for legitimate and according-to-the-law actions, while also keeping personal information safe.


    • Regional Variations in VIN Regulations Different regions have different rules about VIN number disclosures. In some areas, much stricter privacy laws (especially in places where Identity Theft is very high) limits how VIN numbers can be used and shared, especially in public forums. Those regulations are particularly relevant in international vehicle transactions, where the thorough understanding of regional legal nuances is crucial.


Best practice for sellers on VIN Disclosure

After a deep dive into the potential hazards and use-cases of a VIN number, let’s take a look at the most common practices for sharing your vehicle’s VIN number. As a seller, responsibly sharing your vehicle’s VIN is essential. Let’s look over the most popular and practical tips for sharing your vehicle’s VIN


    1. Verify Buyer Legitimacy – Before sharing your vehicle’s VIN, try to make sure, as much as possible, that the buyer you are in contact with is genuine. Look for signs of serious interest, such as specific questions about the vehicle or even request for viewing / reviewing and a test drive. If the buyer is instantly pushy or in a rush, there might be something off.


    • Timing – Ideally, share your VIN, only after you have decided that there is a genuine interest for the vehicle you are selling and you are confident in the truthfulness of the potential buyer. For best practice, what can help you qualify somebody as a potential buyer is for example he doesn’t rush to ask for the VIN number from the very beginning, but after a test drive for example, indicating the buyer’s serious interest.


    • Proper ways of communication – If an interested buyer offers you to use non-standard means of communication especially when providing personal information, try to avoid using very public places or social media to provide your VIN numbers.


    • Control over your information – Recognize the data you’re sharing that is directly related to your VIN. You wouldn’t want to reveal any private information to a prospective buyer when disclosing your VIN number.


Let’s look at a real-life scenario Example – How to make an informed decision


Let’s take a scenario where you have listed your old car for sale. You decide to meet with a potential buyer for the first time. But unfortunately, upon arrival, the first thing he asks you is for the VIN number. Upon hearing that, you remember that you were recently reading about scams and identity theft, and hesitantly start wondering if it’s safe to share the VIN.


In such a situation, you are going to have to rely on your own judgement If he is rushing things, doesn’t ask for anything else except for the VIN immediately or if he doesn’t seem genuine – this can be taken as a red flag.  But after all, once you feel comfortable, providing the VIN to the potential buyer is a step forward in building trust and facilitating a transparent transaction for both sides.



In conclusion, the best practice for giving out your VIN to a potential buyer or a serious inquiry is generally safe and forms a very important part of the car selling process. This identifier serves as a reference point for interested buyers to access all the information about the vehicle’s past, from its manufacturing details to its’ journey through different owners, accidents and service history. After all, providing the VIN is not only for compliance, its’ about creating a fully-transparent and trust-based transaction between both parties, which is the main goal of every successful sale.



    1. Can a VIN be used for fraudulent activities or even vehicle theft? – While it’s very rare for the VIN to be used for any kind of fraud, it’s still important to share it only with serious buyers or over serious inquiries, in order to always keep risk to a minimum.
    2. Should the VIN be shared early on in the selling process? – Generally, it’s advisable to only share the VIN once you have established that the potential buyer has genuine interest.

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