TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Why do People Mask their License Plates?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by mknox, May 1, 2015.

  1. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2012
    Messages:
    8,561
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    I notice that a lot of people posting pictures of their cars will mask their licence plate. Even Google will fuzz out plates on Street View. In contrast, people with personalized plates will proudly show it off in pictures and even here in forum avatars.

    Why is this? Licence plates are in plain view everywhere. I probably capture hundreds every day with my car's dash cam.

    What can someone do knowing your plate number? I don't think anyone other than police can match a plate with an owner and address.
     
  2. Shawn Snider

    Shawn Snider Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2014
    Messages:
    204
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Bodies in the Frunk's breed paranoia? :rolleyes:
     
  3. AC1K

    AC1K Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2013
    Messages:
    468
    Location:
    Calgary Alberta Canada
    technically nothing, but illegally they can find out where you live if they have access to the registry, but illegally you can get any info you want,
     
  4. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2011
    Messages:
    15,487
    A friend of mine takes pictures of (lots of things including) cars. When posting/publishing pictures, he always obscures non-vanity plates but leaves vanity plates as is. The distinction, IIRC, is that a vanity place implies an intent to be seen/noticed/identified whereas for generic plates sometimes people prefer a greater degree of anonymity or privacy.
     
  5. beeeerock

    beeeerock Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,372
    Location:
    Kamloops BC Canada
    I've often wondered exactly the same thing... and can come up with no good reason other than misplaced personal information and privacy paranoia.

    Here in BC, the vanity plate group at ICBC told me they don't have an online method to check *availability* of a plate, due to "privacy concerns". But they'll manually look up your ideas while you wait on the phone!

    Ummm..... what? I can phone and get the same information I want to access on the net, and somehow one method ensures privacy and the other doesn't??? Sorry, I must be stupid, because I don't understand...
     
  6. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    7,019
    Meh. Not concerned. My license plate information is one of the least of my worries. Illinois electric vehicle registrations are $35 for 2 years, but you can't get vanity plates; if you want them, you have to go with standard Illinois passenger or specialty plates, which are $99-$159 per year. I'd love a cute vanity plate, but I'm cheap and would rather save $100/year. :)
     
  7. ArtInCT

    ArtInCT Always Learning

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,603
    Location:
    Southern Connecticut
    Probably to thwart cross referencing your forum ID and license plate to actually ID you. I suppose if you were able to get access to the various state DMV registration databases, you could figure out the registration address, name and other particulars.
     
  8. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2012
    Messages:
    8,561
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Okay, that's a good point about the cross-referencing.

    I knew someone who saw a very nice car he wanted to make an offer on every so often on his commute. He noted the plate tried contacting the (Ontario) DMV as well as a friend who worked at the local police and there was no way anyone was going to divulge the owner's info.

    I've posted numerous pictures of my car with the plate visible (here, PlugShare etc.) and never worried about it. I just see so many people editing out their plate, I wondered if I might be missing something.
     
  9. roblab

    roblab Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    2,024
    Location:
    Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
    I guess I've never been concerned that someone might actually find out my name, address, how many solar panels I have, whether I like my Tesla. Shoot, all they have to do is stop me and ask all the questions they want.

    What they gonna do? Steal my credit info? Well, I generally use cash, and don't borrow. Nothing here, folks. Move along....
     
  10. mibaro2

    mibaro2 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2012
    Messages:
    958
    Location:
    Georgetown, ON
    I wouldn't bother to block out my license plate, but I might block out another car's license plate in a photo I took unless I had the owners express permission to post the photo as is.
     
  11. santana338

    santana338 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2012
    Messages:
    333
    Location:
    Manchester, NH
    I've wondered about this too. Thanks for bringing it up. I'm glad I'm not missing something more sinister than just security paranoia.
     
  12. napabill

    napabill Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2009
    Messages:
    1,324
    Location:
    Napa, California, United States
    Prevents outing someone from being somewhere he/she said they weren't.
     
  13. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Messages:
    14,241
    Location:
    Columbia River Gorge
    I can't speak for the rest of the world, but in the majority of states in the US, you can file for vehicle records through your state DMV. Usually it has to be done manually (i.e., not online).

    As a reunited adoptee, I've not only been an advocate for open birth records for over 20 years, but have also run adoptee/ birth parent searches, facilitating over 100 reunions (all with permission of both parties). I originally received search/reunion training from the State of Colorado when I was a resident there, and was a court-appointed intermediary.

    I can't tell you how many times I sent off a $5 (or whatever) check to a particular state DMV to pull records. More and more states are shutting it down, unless you can show proof of need (like in law-enforcement, or in my case, working on behalf of a court), but the majority still don't ask for proof of anything.

    Usually I wasn't working from a plate, but that info was available. It was more useful to me to pull a driving record, because people are likely to give their phone number when receiving a speeding ticket, even if that phone number is unlisted.

    All that said, I wouldn't bother blocking my plate. So much info is so easily available right now. Divorce records are available & have financial records, parents names, etc. High school reunion committees know where you're living (or classmates.com). I could go on, but my plate info is the least of my privacy problems.
     
  14. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2014
    Messages:
    2,755
    Location:
    Santa Cruz Mountains, USA
    Total paranoia. Everybody can find out lots about all of us. I have nothing to hide. Nothing to regret. So I simply do not worry about it and am proud to show my plate, which is my motto: CHG ON!!!

    CHARGE ON YOUNG GIRLS AND BOYS! Take over the world and do good.
     
  15. reddy

    reddy Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2013
    Messages:
    412
    Location:
    Amarillo, TX
    I guess I missed something.

    My forum username is the same as my license plate. And my avatar is my license plate.

    I do get some inquiries about it. I had some folks ask me online if it was from Andrha Pradesh.

    I told them it was from Kilowatt.
     
  16. tga

    tga Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2014
    Messages:
    2,202
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    I probably wouldn't block out most of my plates, except for the one on my Mini, since it has a ham plate on it. One quick google search and my secret identity is revealed. Since the FCC records have a PO box, at least my address is a little harder to get.
     
  17. gg_got_a_tesla

    gg_got_a_tesla Model S: VIN P65513, Model 3 Res Holder

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Messages:
    6,097
    Location:
    Redwood Shores, CA
    Haha, I'd have asked you the same as I'm from said Andhra Pradesh (a state in South India).

    Yup, if one's really concerned about privacy, they should try to remove the EXIF info from the pics taken with their smartphone or digital camera before posting them online. (I don't do this enough myself).
     
  18. freds

    freds Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2014
    Messages:
    247
    Location:
    Bothell, WA
    Well in the case of airplanes; since 9/11 the bad guys can simply Google the tail number to find out where to go to pick up the keys, go figure!!!
     
  19. Canuck

    Canuck Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2013
    Messages:
    3,942
    Location:
    South Surrey, BC
    In BC a lawyer has to provide a letter to DMV with the reason required to obtain name of owner from a plate number. Saying you act for a client involved in an mva with the vehicle plate is sufficient to get the information but that letter is kept on file in case of any funny business later. The reason every disclosure is documented arose because of problems with people searching plates at abortion clinics then harassing them later. So the privacy concerns and protection of identities makes sense to me, unless required for a legitimate purpose.

    However, what people don't realize is how easy is it to get this information privately, rather than publicly. For instance, Mr. Lube, etc. keep a database of the plate numbers and names of every vehicle that have been to Mr. Lube (so no Tesla owners!). I listened to an internet show recently where they demostrated how calling one of these places, and saying that they are from head office, computer support division, and they were having problems with the orders showing at head office. They then gave a plate number and asked for the owner's name and number, to verify the system was working, and the guy at the shop typed it in the computer and gave it out with no questions asked.
     
  20. omarsultan

    omarsultan Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2013
    Messages:
    1,496
    Location:
    Northern California
    Probably does not work with unique car like a Tesla, but if you needed a car for nefarious purposes, being able to put a fake, but legit license plate on your car would help it get past a cursory law enforcement check. Not sure how big a risk this actually is, but I guess its possible. Along those lines, in the Bay Area, I guess you could also use a fake (but legit) license plate to get through bridge tolls on someone else's dime.

    ---Updated---

    Guess it happens: Another Model S owner is using my license plates!
     

Share This Page