VIN Fraud

As our classic cars gain in value, VIN fraud is becoming more and more common. Several people have asked to read the laws concerning VIN numbers, counterfeit VIN tags and VIN fraud in general. VIN fraud is covered by Federal Law and every state has their own additional laws which in some cases are more strict that the Federal Laws. I will add the state laws as I can find them for each state.

 

Georgia VIN Laws

TITLE 40. MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC
CHAPTER 4. IDENTIFICATION OF AND PURCHASE AND RESALE OF MOTOR VEHICLES AND PARTS
ARTICLE 2. ALTERATION OR REMOVAL OF IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS

§ 40-4-20 (2006)

§ 40-4-20. Definitions

As used in this article, the term:

(1) "Falsify" includes alter or forge.

(2) "Identification number" means an identifying number, serial number, engine number, or other distinguishing number or mark placed on a vehicle or engine by its manufacturer or by authority of the commissioner or in accordance with the laws of another state or country.

(3) "Remove" includes deface or destroy.

§ 40-4-21. Removal or falsification of identification number


(a) A person who willfully removes, except in conformance with Code Section 40-3-35 (below) , or falsifies an identification number of a vehicle or an engine for a vehicle is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(b) A person who, willfully and with intent to misrepresent the identity of a vehicle or engine, removes or falsifies an identification number of the vehicle or engine with intent to convert or defraud is guilty of a felony. A person convicted of a felony under this subsection shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500.00 nor more than $5,000.00, or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

§ 40-3-35. When commissioner to issue new certificate to transferee; filing and retention of surrendered certificates


(a) The commissioner or the commissioner's duly authorized county tag agent, upon receipt of a properly assigned certificate of title, with an application for a new certificate of title, the required fee, and any other documents required by law, shall issue a new certificate of title in the name of the transferee as owner and mail the certificate to the first lienholder named in the application or, if none, to the owner.

(b) The commissioner or the commissioner's duly authorized county tag agent, upon receipt of an application for a new certificate of title by a transferee other than by voluntary transfer, with proof of the transfer, the required fee, and any other documents required by law, shall issue a new certificate of title in the name of the transferee as owner. If the outstanding certificate of title is not delivered to the commissioner or the authorized county tag agent, the commissioner or authorized county tag agent shall make demand therefor from the holder thereof.

(c) The commissioner or the commissioner's duly authorized county tag agent shall file and retain for five years every surrendered certificate of title, the file to be maintained so as to permit the tracing of title of the vehicle designated therein.

§ 40-4-22. Buying, selling, receiving, concealing, using, possessing, or disposing of motor vehicle or part thereof from which identification has been removed or altered

(a) It shall be unlawful to buy, sell, receive, dispose of, conceal, use, or possess any motor vehicle, or any part thereof, from which the manufacturer's serial numbers or other distinguishing numbers or identifying marks have been removed, defaced, covered, altered, or destroyed for the purpose of concealing or misrepresenting the identity of such motor vehicle.

(b) Any person who knowingly violates any provisions of subsection (a) of this Code section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for not less than one nor more than five years.


§ 40-4-23. When identification number not deemed falsified

An identification number may be placed on a vehicle or engine by its manufacturer in the regular course of business or placed or restored on a vehicle or engine by authority of the commissioner without violating this article. An identification number so placed or restored is not falsified.


§ 40-3-36. Cancellation of certificate of title for scrap, dismantled, or demolished vehicles; salvage certificate of title; administrative enforcement; removal of license plates

(a)(1) Any registered owner or authorized agent of a registered owner who in any manner sells or disposes of any motor vehicle as scrap metal or parts only or who scraps, dismantles, or demolishes a motor vehicle shall within 72 hours mail or deliver the certificate of title to the commissioner for cancellation.
(2)(A) The registered owner of any motor vehicle which is damaged to the extent that its restoration to an operable condition would require the replacement of the front clip assembly, which includes the fenders, hood, and bumper; the rear clip assembly, which includes the quarter panels, the floor panel assembly, and the roof assembly, excluding a soft top; the frame; and a complete side, which includes the fenders, door, and quarter panel shall mail or deliver the certificate of title to the commissioner for cancellation.

(B) A motor vehicle owner who retains possession of a damaged vehicle which is a salvage motor vehicle as defined in paragraph (11) of Code Section 40-3-2 shall surrender the license plates and registration for such vehicle, shall not operate such vehicle upon the roads of this state, and shall not sell, trade, or otherwise dispose of such vehicle prior to obtaining a salvage certificate of title for such vehicle.

(C) Any insurance company which acquires a damaged motor vehicle by virtue of having paid a total loss claim shall mail or deliver the certificate of title to the commissioner for cancellation. In every case in which a total loss claim is paid and the insurance company does not acquire such damaged motor vehicle, the insurance company paying such total loss claim, the vehicle owner, and the lienholder or security interest holder, as applicable, shall take the following steps to secure a salvage certificate of title for such motor vehicle:

(i) If the vehicle owner is in possession of the certificate of title, the owner shall deliver the certificate of title to the insurance company prior to any payment of the claim, and the insurance company shall mail or deliver the certificate of title, an application for a salvage certificate of title, and the form provided by the commissioner for issuance of a salvage certificate of title;

(ii) If the certificate of title has been lost, destroyed, or misplaced, the vehicle owner shall, prior to payment of the claim on such vehicle, complete an application for a replacement title on the form provided by the commissioner and deliver such application and form to the insurance company and the insurance company shall mail or deliver such application and form to the commissioner for issuance of a replacement original title marked salvage;

(iii) If the lienholder or security interest holder has possession of the certificate of title, the vehicle owner shall complete an application for a replacement title on a form provided by the commissioner and shall deliver the completed form to the insurance company prior to the payment of the claim; the insurance company shall thereafter mail or deliver the application to the commissioner with notice of the payment of the total loss claim and the name and address of the lienholder or security interest holder in possession of the title. The commissioner shall mail notice to the lienholder or security interest holder that a total loss claim has been paid on the vehicle and that the title to such vehicle has been canceled, and the commissioner shall provide to the lienholder or security interest holder a salvage certificate of title for such vehicle, provided that the validity of the security interest shall not be affected by issuance of a salvage certificate of title. The lienholder or security interest holder shall, within ten days after receipt of such notice of total loss claim and cancellation of the original certificate of title, mail or deliver the canceled original certificate of title to the commissioner; or

(iv) For the sole purpose of payment of a total loss claim, for any vehicle ten years of age or older for which neither the vehicle owner nor the lienholder or security interest holder, if any, possesses a certificate of title, the vehicle owner shall deliver the vehicle license plate and certificate of registration for such vehicle to the insurance company prior to payment of any claim and the insurance company shall mail or deliver the license plate and certificate of registration to the commissioner with a completed form provided by the commissioner; provided, however, that the vehicle owner shall not operate such vehicle and the owner shall obtain a certificate of title for such vehicle as provided by law, which certificate of title shall then be subject to cancellation as provided in this paragraph.

(D) The department shall give priority to the title submissions provided for in subparagraph (C) of this paragraph and shall issue a salvage certificate of title for such vehicles within seven days of receipt of such submissions by an insurance company.

(a.1) In the case of a motor vehicle which is subject to more than one perfected security interest or lien which motor vehicle is a total loss, if the insurer is to acquire title to the damaged motor vehicle, the holder of the senior security interest or lien, upon receipt of the settlement proceeds of the insurance policy in accordance with Code Section 33-34-9, shall apply for a new certificate of title for a transferee other than by voluntary transfer in accordance with subsection (b) of Code Section 40-3-35, naming the insurer only as transferee.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, any person, firm, or corporation which purchases or otherwise acquires a salvage motor vehicle shall apply to the commissioner for a salvage certificate of title for such motor vehicle within 30 days of the purchase or acquisition of the motor vehicle or within 30 days of the payment of a total loss claim as provided in paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of this Code section to the registered owner of the salvage motor vehicle, if the person, firm, or corporation intends to operate or to sell, convey, or transfer the motor vehicle; and no such person, firm, or corporation shall sell, transfer, or convey a salvage motor vehicle until such person, firm, or corporation has applied for and obtained a salvage certificate of title.

(c) The application for a salvage certificate of title shall be made in a manner to be prescribed by the commissioner.

(d) Any certificate of title which is issued to a salvage motor vehicle, as provided for in this Code section, shall contain the word "salvage" on the face of the certificate in such a manner as the commissioner may prescribe, so as to indicate clearly that the motor vehicle described is a salvage motor vehicle. The legend "salvaged-repaired" shall be placed on a certificate of title to a vehicle which was declared a salvage vehicle and subsequently repaired with less than two major component parts to restore the vehicle to an operable condition.

(e) Notwithstanding this subsection and subsections (c) and (d) of Code Section 40-3-37, the legend "rebuilt" or "salvage" or "salvaged-repaired" shall only be required to be placed on the certificate of title to a vehicle which was declared a salvage vehicle on or after July 1, 2004, and which was subsequently rebuilt.

(f) As an alternative to criminal or other civil enforcement, the commissioner, in order to enforce this Code section or any orders, rules, and regulations promulgated pursuant to this Code section, may issue an administrative fine not to exceed $1,000.00 for each violation, whenever the commissioner, after a hearing, determines that any person has violated any provisions of this Code section or any regulations or orders promulgated under this Code section. The hearing and any administrative review thereof shall be conducted in accordance with the procedure for contested cases under Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act." Any person who has exhausted all administrative remedies available and who is aggrieved or adversely affected by a final order or action of the commissioner shall have the right of judicial review thereof in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50. All fines recovered under this subsection shall be paid into the state treasury. The commissioner may file, in the superior court (1) wherein the person under order resides; (2) if such person is a corporation, in the county wherein the corporation maintains its principal place of business; or (3) in the county wherein the violation occurred, a certified copy of a final order of the commissioner, whether unappealed from or affirmed upon appeal, whereupon the court shall render judgment in accordance therewith and notify the parties. Such judgment shall have the same effect and proceedings in relation thereto shall thereafter be the same as though the judgment had been rendered in an action duly heard and determined by the court. The penalty prescribed in this Code section shall be concurrent, alternative, and cumulative with any and all other civil, criminal, or alternative rights, remedies, forfeitures, or penalties provided, allowed, or available to the commissioner with respect to any violation of this Code section or any order, rules, or regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.

(g) The Commissioner of Insurance is authorized to enforce the provisions of this Code section to the extent such provisions are applicable to insurers which are under the jurisdiction of the Insurance Department. The Commissioner of Insurance is also authorized to cooperate with the commissioner in enforcing this Code section and to provide the commissioner with any information acquired by the Commissioner of Insurance during any investigation or proceeding involving this Code section. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the powers and duties of the commissioner to enforce the provisions of this Code section as such provisions apply to insurers.

(h) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to violate the provisions of subsection (a), (b), or (c) of this Code section; and any person, firm, or corporation convicted of violating such provisions shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Any owner of a salvage motor vehicle who transfers or attempts to transfer such vehicle without obtaining a salvage certificate of title for such vehicle shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000.00. Any lienholder or security interest holder who, after notice by the commissioner of payment of a total loss claim and cancellation of the title of a vehicle, fails or refuses to return the title to the commissioner or who surrenders the title to anyone other than the commissioner shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000.00.

(i) The registered owner who retains possession of a salvage motor vehicle to whom a total loss claim has been paid shall promptly remove the license plate from such vehicle and return such plate to the commissioner for cancellation. An insurer which pays a total loss claim shall, on a form prescribed by the commissioner, notify the owner of the duty to remove and return such license plate for cancellation and of all inspection requirements for rebuilding or restoring such vehicle.

 
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