Motor Vehicle Fraud Alerts

Vehicle Title Fraud Alert – What to Do Before You Purchase a Used Vehicle

The Utah DMV participates in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). This system allows the DMV to verify the information on paper vehicle titles with the electronic title record from the state that issued the title. NMVTIS protects consumers from fraud and unsafe vehicles, and helps keep stolen vehicles from being resold.

Before you purchase a used vehicle, watch the following video for information, and check the vehicle history at

Why should I do a NMVTIS title history check?

It is the only vehicle title database in the nation to which all states, insurance carriers, junk and salvage yards are required by federal law to report.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of title fraud and finding out the used vehicle you purchased might be worth much less than what you paid or is unsafe to operate is by going to

“The time to protect yourself is to check the vehicle in the national database before you buy.”

What is included in a Vehicle History Report?

An NMVTIS Vehicle History Report is intended to provide data on five key indicators associated with the prevention of auto fraud and theft.

  1. Current State of Title and Last Title Date
    • Verifying the validity of the title helps you know that you have the most recent title issued.
  2. Brand History
    • Brands are descriptive labels (applied by state motor vehicle titling agencies) regarding the status of a motor vehicle, such as “junk,” “salvage,” and “flood.” NMVTIS keeps a history of brands that have been applied to the vehicle by any state. Brand information helps protect consumers from purchasing a damaged vehicle that is presented for sale without disclosure of the vehicle’s real condition. Without knowing the brand history, a consumer may pay more than a vehicle’s true value or purchase a vehicle that has not been adequately repaired and is not safe to drive.
  3. Odometer Reading
    • The crime of odometer fraud may result in a consumer paying more than the vehicle’s fair market value or cause the consumer to purchase an unsafe vehicle.
    • Also, checking the odometer reading helps consumers to identify discrepancies in the vehicle’s history.
  4. Total Loss History
    • When a vehicle has been deemed a total loss, generally the vehicle has had severe damage. Knowing whether a vehicle has been declared a total loss helps consumers avoid purchasing a potentially unsafe vehicle.
  5. Salvage History
    • Similar to a vehicle with a total loss history, a vehicle that has a salvage history has had severe damage. Salvage history helps consumers avoid purchasing a potentially unsafe vehicle. If you are purchasing a vehicle with a salvage certificate your vehicle will need to pass a Utah safety inspection in order to be titled as rebuilt/restored and registered for street use.

Fake DMV Websites

There are many fraudulent websites that claim to provide DMV services. These sites often try to steal your personal identifying information or sell services that you can get free at the official Utah DMV website.

  • The official Utah DMV website is
  • All official State of Utah website addresses, including Utah’s Motor Vehicle Portal (MVP), have “” as the end of the main address, before any slashes.
  • Be careful with websites that are not affiliated with the Utah DMV but also provide consumer services.
  • If the website contains a disclaimer at the top or bottom of the site stating they are not affiliated with a government agency, then it is not the official Utah DMV site.

Buyer Beware

For motor vehicle title history on a vehicle, visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS).

The best advice is to spot a one-time wreck before you buy it. These vehicles can look good but there are some telltale signs:

  • Be suspicious of any vehicle that has a recently issued out-of-state title.
  • Be suspicious of a private seller whose name does not appear on the title.
  • Use an on-line commercial title-search company to research the history of the vehicle.
  • Check the door gaps. Make sure that the door itself isn’t touching the fender when you open the door.
  • Check both sides. It is unusual that both sides will be exactly the same when a vehicle has been damaged.
  • Examine the paint. Check the doorjamb, moldings, and plastic cover items. Because any time a vehicle has been sprayed over these areas may be missed.
  • Check the dashboard, which may not have been repaired due to the cost, right up to the molding, which may have chips in it.
  • Check the roof and doors for body filler. The finish of the body filler may not be super smooth and this is an indication that there’s a problem. It is harder to see dents when the paint on the vehicle is light so feel it with your hands. Sometimes minor dents aren’t repaired at all.
  • Check that the rear tailgate and body match. Gaps in some areas and a tighter fit in another is an indication there has been improper fitting of the body panels to the rest of the chassis.
  • Check the paint match between the tailgate and the quarter panel. Don’t look at the vehicle in the rain or in the night because both can hide a lot of blemishes.
  • Have the vehicle checked by a body shop and mechanic. Ask for a complete mechanical report of the vehicle, what repairs you may have to do in the future and if the vehicle has been damaged.
  • Check under the car for damage. If, for example, the gas tank is damaged, or dented, it will give you an inaccurate reading on your fuel gauge and it is just another indication of problems.
    Keep your eyes open, ask a lot of questions and if you have doubts, walk away.
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