Driver's Guide

How to Spot a Fake Car Title – 6 Easy Signs

Howdy, Driver? In this article, I disclose how to spot a fake car title.

how to spot a fake car title

You do not have to be a professional to detect a fake car title. Although it may be challenging to tell a fake car title from a real car title, if you pay attention to details on the title certificate and the behavior of the seller when you say, “let’s go to the DMV (the US) or DLVA (the UK)”, then you can tell whether the title is real or fake.

Typically, fake car titles are used to commit crimes and defraud unsuspecting buyers. It could be that the vehicle was stolen, and so the crooks created a fake title or pink slip to substitute for the original.

How to a Fake Title Certificate from the Original

Curbstoning is the commonest practice that lands a buyer with a fake-title vehicle.

Below are the ways to spot a fake title:

  1. The title is Different from the State

The first sign that a car title is fake is if the title is from a different. It is not a concrete reason that a title could be fake, but you should consider the possibility that the title is fake.

In this regard, the title of a car could be involved in a title washing scam, whereby the seller moves a vehicle to a different state where the title brand is not recognized. It is either the original title was salvaged, but rebuilt to clean, or the vehicle was stolen.

It could also be that the seller is attempting to avoid paying the vehicle sales tax, which is most common in open titles.

  1. Unclear Print

An unclearly printed title is a sign that the title is fake. Even your local motoring agency would have to investigate a car title that is unclear or damaged thoroughly.

Unless you trust the seller, I recommend asking the seller to request a duplicate title before they sign over the title for you to register the car in your name.

  1. A Recently Issued Title

If the title of a car was issued recently, but the car was purchased in your home state, it is a sign that the title is forged.

Ask the seller what prompted the application for a new vehicle title. If their reason is flimsy, do not buy the used car.

  1. Check the Watermark

Brands of titles such as parts-only, salvage, owner-retained, etc. are placed on a title certificate in the form of watermark and other ways that are official in the state. It is difficult to create a fake car title and place the marks without notable differences.

Get a copy of a title or pink slip from your state and compare it with what a seller gives you. If there are differences in how the watermark/image of the title brand is placed, it is a sign that the car title is fake.

  1. Inspect the VIN

A common way to detect a fake title is to look up the vehicle information.

Some of the sites to look up the VIN are:

You need a credit card for payment to obtain complete vehicle information on a car.

The VIN is requested from the National Motor Vehicles Title Information System (NMVTIS), a database that holds the title information for the used car you want to buy.

The VIN report contains the vehicle history that states whether the vehicle has ever been declared a total loss by an insurance company or possessed by a junkyard.

Meanwhile, I have written an article that shows how you can junk a car without a title.

  1. Contact Your Local DMV

The best way to tell a real title is to contact your local DMV with the seller. If the seller refuses the idea of going to the local DMV to complete ownership transfer and related paperwork, the title is fake.

A sincere seller would not object to visiting the DMV to complete the paperwork, would they? Of course, not.

We also recommend this WLWT video also showing important information about faked titles for selling stolen cars:

Final Thoughts

A washed title can also be a fake title because it prevents the buyer from knowing the true condition of a vehicle. To solve the problem, run a simple VIN check to reveal the history of the vehicle.

Note, however, that if the VIN was switched or cloned by thieves, you cannot obtain the correct information about the vehicle.

Do not buy a car if you discover that the title is fake, possibly, the car was involved in a theft that will be traced to you, meaning that you will have legal actions to contain with.

Buy from reliable dealers only and endeavor to report cases of title fraud to law enforcement or the title bureau.

Latest posts by Bernard Juchli (see all)

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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