The Lost Car Registry
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VIN Reports: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)?

In 1994, Congress enacted the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (18 U.S.C. 2721-2725) after the murder of actress Rebecca Shaeffer. Her assailant had gotten her address from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Act generally prohibits states from disclosing personal information that their drivers submit in order to obtain driver s licenses or register vehicles. "Personal information" under the Act includes an individual's photograph, Social Security number (SSN), driver identification number, name, address (but not 5-digit zip code), telephone number, and medical or disability information. Information on vehicular accidents, driving violations, and driver's status is not "personal information." States must disclose personal information for certain purposes, and may disclose it for a long list of fourteen other purposes.

In 2000, the Act was amended to create a new class of "highly restricted personal information." This includes an individual's photograph or image, Social Security number (SSN), and medical or disability information. This information may not be shared without the express consent of the person to whom the information applies, except for four purposes stated in the Act.

Click here for the full text of the law, courtesy of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.

2. What is the cost of the initial VIN search? What does this initial search provide?

The cost of the initial search is $300 (including taxes). We will provide a "search service" where vehicle registration information will be searched in the 35-plus states available (with an average cost of $9.00 per state) searching by submitted VIN number to determine if any current or historical registration information can be obtained. If any registration information can be obtained which shows someone other than you or a family member (which you identified to us as the last known owner), we will advise you that such information exists.

2. If no information is found for a submitted VIN, do I receive a refund? No. (Further explanation to follow...)

3. If a current owner or other previous owners are found for my vehicle, can I contact them myself?

Due to DPPA restrictions, we cannot provide you directly with the registration information but will give you the option of proceeding with efforts to contact this last known owner.

4. Which states are available for searching? What types of records are available for each?

Click this link to see the list of states that are available for searching.

In most states, vehicle registration information is current with many years of registration history information available. In several states, however, only historical registration information is available - this data varies from state-to-state.

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