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VINs, license plates, and privacy

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by Kipernicus, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. Kipernicus

    Kipernicus Model S Res#P1440

    Dec 2, 2009
    Belmont, CA
    There has been a little discussion about this, but I am curious as to the implications of posting license plates and VINs online.
    Is it a privacy risk?
    These are, after all, visible when you are out in public (especially the license plates, the VIN you have to look a little harder).
    Can you do identity theft or track down someone's name or residence or other info if you know their VIN and plate?
  2. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

    Aug 18, 2006
    CA CA
    TEG can find you with a grainy picture of your valve stem.
  3. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

    Mar 29, 2009
    Nixa, Missouri, United States
    Do you worry about that at Wal-mart?
    I've never understood the paranoia, the blacking out of plate numbers, etc. We drive down a highway with thousands of other cars and our numbers visible to all. I can't even imagine what good knowing my license plate number would do anyone.
  4. bonnie

    bonnie I play a nice person on twitter.

    Feb 6, 2011
    Columbia River Gorge
    Having done plenty of searches as a volunteer court-appointed intermediary when I lived in Colorado, I can tell you that state laws vary a great deal. Some states, if you fill out a form with a license plate number and give them a few bucks, you are given the registered owner of the vehicle - and you can then pay a few more dollars and get their complete driving record. Any tickets they received probably will contain their (potentiallly unlisted) phone number. Easy way to get contact info. Then there are states like California, which because of a celebrity stalking/shooting years ago, have tightened up their laws and information is not so easily obtained, unless you have a court-order. And even then, it's a bit difficult. (So if you live in CA, you're pretty safe.)

    Knowing all this, I still have shared my Roadster VIN and also my license plate. It's easy for anyone to get anyway. What you should protect, always, is your social security number. That's gold when someone is searching for you. Divorced? Marriage and divorce records are public record. Your divorce paperwork is obtained easily and contains all sorts of information you should be concerned about ... employment, financial status, SSN, parents names, etc.

    And of course you should always monitor your credit files, because identity theft is real. I check mine at least monthly and also am sent alerts when there is any new activity on my file.
  5. jerry33

    jerry33 (S85-3/2/13 traded in) X LR: F2611##-3/27/20

    Mar 8, 2012
    I tried doing that but every place I went to seemed like a scam--including the one that was offered by my bank (I paid them $11 per month and all I got was a link website that I could have found with Google. No monthly reports, nothing. Of course, I cancelled after the second month so I was only out $22).
  6. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

    Aug 20, 2006
    Keeping your birthdate private is probably a good idea too if you don't want people digging into your past, or trying to use your identity somehow.

    I think the place people don't like having their plate known is if they are called out on something embarrassing.
    Having a video of your car doing something reckless on Youtube complete with plate is not good, and law enforcement might look you up.

    Perhaps double parking across some handicapped spots might land you in a hall of shame photo gallery.

    I guess the morale there is try to stick to the rules of the road (and parking lot) particularly if you know someone might be taking video!

    Even having no plates at all can't always help though:
    iPhone Savior: New Photos of Steve Jobs' Mercedes Hint at Apple Spectator Sport

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