The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has recently been warning Americans that identity thieves are using those stolen identities to buy or lease new vehicles, drive them away, and disappear without making a single payment. Frank Scafidi, the spokesman for the NICB, says that often the cars are exported to other countries. If you’re an identity theft victim and your identity thief purchased a vehicle in your name, the steps you must take is very similar to any other identity theft. Once you are able to prove that the vehicle is not yours and you have not purchased it, the banks will refund your money and recoup the car if it’s found somewhere. This crime has become so popular that it has caught the attention of the NICB and the FBI. In May, three men were caught in an international auto theft ring. The three of them used stolen credit card numbers and stolen identities to purchase 44 vehicles and ship them to Ghana. The cars were worth over $500,000. They had bought the stolen credit card numbers and the corresponding driver’s licenses online. They stocked up on Toyotas and Mercedes, drove them to New Jersey, shipped them to Ghana, and sold them there. Eventually the dealership became suspicious about the excessive purchasing and contacted the FBI. This ended the scam.
It’s Fraud, Not Auto Theft
It’s impossible to say how many similar cases of identity theft and vehicle purchasing has occurred in the United States since 2010 because many people make the mistake to classify them as financial fraud instead of auto theft. This makes it difficult to count the exact number of cases because the FBI tracks the annual auto thefts under its Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Many people don’t even know that their identity was stolen until the bank that financed these vehicles notices that no payments are made on the loans. These financial institutions often seek the help of law enforcement, or if they try to repossess the vehicle, and obviously can’t find them, they will often contact the NICB. If you are an innocent victim that has had both your credit card number and your identity stolen, you will have to deal with a lot of lack of trust before you can clear your name. Identity theft is known specifically to be a real hassle trying to get to straighten out. Despite all the hassle and headaches, you won’t get a black mark on your auto insurance record from failing to cover a car you never owned after you finally become able to prove that you were a victim of an identity theft scam. Reputable auto dealers never let someone purchase a car without proving they have insurance coverage.
It’s Your Identity That’s Wrecked
Sadly, when you find that a car has been bought under your name, it is entirely up to you to clean up the mess and prove that you have had your identity stolen. It is always the victim’s responsibility to prove that it wasn’t their fault. If you ever receive an unexpected call from any finance company or car dealership asking about a vehicle that you haven’t made any payments on, you should first request a copy of your credit report to make sure that there are no unauthorized charges. If there are, the next step required is for you to file a police report, you’ll have to have many meetings with different people including the three main credit reporting agencies, your auto insurance company, the auto dealership, and your state’s department of motor vehicles. Identity theft can be a sticky situation. It really impacts your finances, and just hope that you don’t need to buy a new car before the situation is handled. Until the identity theft issue is resolved, the extra vehicle listed in your name can really impact your debt to income ratio and make it look like you’ve missed making all of your previous car payments. Identity thieves are very clever and skilled at making very convincing documents. Most of the time, identity thieves will use your stolen information to run up a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in credit card charges rather than trying to steal vehicles that can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Buying a vehicle in someone else’s name is a new and more effective may for thieves to monetize their data.
Identity theft is a giant problem in the world because it is so hard to get rid of. It can be very difficult for a victim of identity theft to prove that they are not lying. Now identity theft is becoming a greater problem because identity thieves are finding new and more efficient ways to steal. In the past, identity thieves would steal only a few thousand dollars before they were discovered and now they can steal tens of thousands of dollars’ worth in cars.