A vehicle history report will give you an overview of your car’s history, including its maintenance and records of any accidents. However, mistakes can happen and there are also scams that could be associated with vehicle history reports. These reports target consumers who buy or sell used cars.

Scams involving vehicle history reports are rare when you buy a report directly from the manufacturer, such as Carfax or AutoCheck. You can also get a report through a trusted dealer or franchise. You could be a victim if you buy a car from someone else or sell a car. These are just a few examples of vehicle history report scams, and how you can avoid falling for them.

Incomplete or outdated reports

An accurate and current vehicle history report from trusted suppliers like Carfax or AutoCheck usually includes information about a car’s accident record. Sometimes, however, important information can be left out accidentally or deliberately.

Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader, says that a history report may not capture something due to the way they gather information. “A history report .”

If such cases occur, or in the event of minor accidents that have not been reported, owners might withhold information to avoid higher rates of insurance or to increase their chances of selling a vehicle.

Moody also said that private-party sellers may be able to provide an older history report, which was likely to have been saved before any damage was done to the vehicle.

Withholding information from a report can be considered a fraud if done intentionally. This can limit the information you have on a car, and it could cause you to pay more for it.

How to avoid this scam

Even if you have viewed the report, it is not enough to decide whether or not to purchase a car solely based on its history. It is important to have the vehicle in question checked out by a reliable and trusted mechanic. Pre-purchase inspections, also known as used car inspections, typically include test drives. These can be anywhere from $100 to $200 and could save you money over the long-term.

Reports on vehicle history

Information can be changed or removed from vehicle history reports, even if certain details are intentionally left out, says Patrick Olson, executive editor at Carfax.

He says that he has seen fly-by-night and private-party dealers use Carfax reports as substitutes or try to alter them by cutting and pasting data.

This happens more often if you don’t purchase a car from an established franchise or large independent dealer.

Avoid this scam: Make sure that you are looking at an actual report and not an alternative. A vehicle history report from a viable provider will include more information about the car, such as its records of serious accidents, maintenance records and mileage. An altered report may not.

If you are considering buying a car from a dealer look out for red flags. These could indicate a disreputable dealer. Most dealers offer free vehicle history reports if you subscribe to trusted services. Don’t trust dealers who refuse to give you a report, or who present an old one.

Reports on vehicle history from scam websites

Buyers often ask for vehicle histories reports when buying a car. A seller may request one as well. However, there are occasions when a buyer requests one. These scams involve websites that steal your personal information.

A potential buyer may contact the seller to request a vehicle history report from an unknown site. A buyer may be asked to provide personal information, a VIN and $20 to obtain a report once they have logged on to the website. The seller will not hear from the buyer again and they won’t receive a report.

Sometimes, the seller may only lose $20. If you provide personal information or the site collects additional details such as your address or your payment card information it could lead to a more serious problem like identity theft.

Avoid this scam by only buying reports from authorized sites. You can check the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System’s site, vehiclehistory.gov to verify that you are getting a report from a reliable source. You should note that not all vehicle histories reports will be made available online. Also, there may be information such as accident history that isn’t included in some reports.

Tips for avoiding vehicle history report scams

These are the key points to remember when buying or selling a used vehicle:

  1. If a private seller isn’t able to provide one, you can get a vehicle history report from an accredited source.

  2. If you are buying a car privately-owned, make sure that you have the most recent version of a vehicle’s history report. A report from a credible source will include detailed information about the car’s history of serious accidents, mileage, recalls, and other information.

  3. Reputable providers will often provide history reports for free to dealers. If they refuse to provide one, it is usually not a good sign.

  4. Never click on links that are not familiar to you from a seller or buyer.

  5. A reputable mechanic will perform a pre-purchase inspection after you have reviewed the vehicle history.