Fraud is a serious issue that impacts not just the victim or thief, but its ramifications can trickle down to other unsuspecting auto insurance policyholders. Insurance fraud can be anything from organizing an incident and submitting exaggerated damage or injury claims, making false claims for damages that occurred prior to an incident, and the inflation of legitimate claims by overstating the overall loss.
There’s a new trend in the insurance fraud game. “Re-Vinning” is a term that refers to the practice of stealing a vehicle and putting what, at first glance, would appear to be a legitimate vehicle identification number (or “VIN”) on the front dash, and then selling it back to another party who has no idea of the vehicle’s origins. The victims of re-vinning will pay money for a vehicle, but won’t ever get that money back. Unfortunately, once the vehicle has been determined “stolen” and is seized by law enforcement, you’ll be in the hole for that money, and without a vehicle.
Avoiding Re-Vinning & Fraud
Re-vinning has become popular due to the rise of electronic vehicles and high-end SUVs that are appealing for resale. In Ontario, it should be noted that a legitimate vehicle seller must provide a used vehicle info package, which will contain the history of the vehicle within the province. Consumers can use a website known as “CARFAX” to enter the vehicle’s VIN and avoid potentially costly issues by reviewing the vehicle history themselves. They can compare CARFAX’s findings with the hardcopies provided by the vehicle seller to ensure that it hasn’t been manipulated. Finally, Canadian Police Information Center has a website that allows individuals to search up VINs to see if the vehicle is listed as “stolen” on file.
A car is a huge purchase – one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the face of used car shortages, it can be easy to pass over the need to fully vet your seller and fall for a reduced price and expedited sales process. This can cost you thousands if you aren’t careful enough. Always take the time to thoroughly vet the seller and the car you are purchasing before agreeing to a sale – no matter how tempting the offer may be.
Avoiding Car Theft
Car thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their tactics to steal vehicles. This is especially true of electronic vehicles. “Relay attacks” are growing in popularity. These attacks occur when thieves intercept a key fob’s radio frequency to the vehicle, copy it, and program a new fob to fit the vehicle. It is important that, if you have one of these fobs, you should never leave it unprotected or near the front entrance of your home. The best way to protecting your fob from relay attacks is to keep it in a protective bag (there’s options online that are designed to block signals) or place it in a metal box to diminish the frequency that the fob emits.
Car thieves have even been known to break into cars physically and program a key fob for the keyboard by using the vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system.
High-end SUVs are some of the most common victims of car theft. This is because they are often stolen for exports and stripped for parts. Previously, it used to be that these vehicles would be stolen for joy rides, but now these vehicles are being stolen by larger crime groups, stripped down for parts to resell, or sold to unsuspecting customers throughout the country.
Some vehicles are more likely to be stolen than others. In Ontario, SUVs are the most appealing, but that might not be true of other provinces. Still, even if your vehicle isn’t lumped into the topmost stolen vehicles in the province, it’s important to take preventative measures. Those include:
- Never leave your car unattended while the engine is running.
- Keep your key fob away from the front door.
- Park in a garage or in well-lit public spaces.
- Don’t leave valuables out in plain view in your car – or in your car at all.
- Install an anti-theft device.
- Use an immobilizer to prevent hot-wiring.
- Consider using a GPS tracker.
- Never leave any spare key near your vehicle.
Car theft isn’t always preventable, but we can take every precaution we can to greatly reduce our risk. Some of these steps may even qualify you for an insurance discount.