VIN owner lookup looks like a great way to protect themselves from buying a car with a potentially dangerous history to many used car shoppers who want to make sure the previous owners were not involved in car scams or other crimes and activities that could avert from buying that vehicle. However, although in theory VIN owner lookup is possible because the VIN number is tied to the owner’s name and address and the information about the current and previous owners is kept at the DMV, on practice, it’s not that easy because private owners’ information is protected by the federal statute called Drivers Privacy Protection Act. Drivers Privacy Protection Act limits the right of the DMV to disclose vehicle owners’ information to third parties. While governmental structures, such as police or courts may access this information without limitations, private persons or businesses will have to prove that they have a strong good reason to request VIN owner lookup. In addition, the applicants will have to provide their personal data together with VIN owner lookup request. Otherwise, there is no chance to get this information from the DMV. Even businesses that need to know the vehicle owner’s name and address based on the VIN in order to fulfill their functions (for example, wrecker services) have restricted access to such information. With every VIN owner lookup request, they attach their DOT and business license numbers. In the UK, drivers’ and owners’ data in kept at the DVLA and in the same way is protected by Data Protection Act of 1998.
You might have read on some websites that one of the ways to do VIN owner lookup is purchase a vehicle history report that includes vehicle ownership history. Be cautious for this information is a bit misleading: neither AutoCheck, nor CarFax, nor any other car history report company is allowed to include vehicle owner’s name and address in their reports according to Drivers Privacy Protection Act., and you won’t find them in any vehicle history report. The only owner related information you will be disclosed is the number of previous owners, the states where the vehicle has been registered and the dates of ownership change, specific businesses or organizations that owned the vehicle (police, car rental or taxi services, governmental use). Theft history is also included in the reports, as well as much other information about the vehicle’s life which may be critical for making buying decision: salvage and other branded titles, lemon, recalls, various types of damage (water, hail, fire, accidents), loans/liens and other. Doing VIN number lookup and getting a vehicle history report is absolutely necessary and highly advisable if you don’t want to regret your purchase later. However, it’s not a way to do VIN owner lookup.
If you don’t know even the current owner, there is a method, however, that may help you find what you need without filing requests to DMV. You may try to lookup the VIN in the property tax databases. In some states or counties, the search may display the related vehicle owner name. However, most of the sites with such search options also comply with Drivers Privacy Protection Act. There is no guarantee that this method works today.