by Colleen Collins
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License plate numbers, stamped on metal or plastic license plates affixed to motor vehicles and trailers, are state-issued identification numbers. The best place to obtain an up-to-date reverse registration record to locate a vehicle identification number is at your state Department of Motor Vehicles office. The Driver Privacy Protection Act restricts who can run such DMV reports (see Reference 1).
Find a local DMV office. Policies on filing requests for records vary from state to state, so check with your state’s DMV first to review their requirements. To find a local DMV office, go to Onlinedmv.com and select your state from the “Search DMV by State” menu at the top of the page or click the link for your state in the center column. After locating a local DMV office, call or write to inquire about record retrieval policies.
Get familiar with the DPPA. The DPPA protects the privacy of individuals by prohibiting the disclosure and use of personal information of drivers from state motor vehicle records (see Reference 1). These restrictions include who can run license plate numbers to retrieve information (such as VINs). Those who have legal authority to execute license plate numbers include licensed private investigators, law enforcement agencies, employers, those who have obtained an authorization for such information from the vehicle owner, and the owners themselves. To review the DPPA, go to Epic.org, click on “Policy Issues” in the top blue bar, scroll down the page and click on the “Driving Records” link.
Accompany the vehicle owner to the DMV. If you do not own that vehicle’s license plate, ask the owner to accompany you to the DMV office to request a license plate report. Most DMV offices ask the owner to verify their identity by showing their state driver’s license.
Get a signed release. If the owner is unable to accompany you to the DMV office, request a signed authorization from the owner (including the owner’s name, driver’s license number, license plate number, and explicit approval for the release of that records). license plate). Most DMV offices require that this signed authorization also be notarized (for state DMV policies, see Step 1).
Hire a private investigator. If you have the authority to obtain the VIN through a reverse registration check (see step 2), hire a private investigator to conduct the search. To find a qualified investigator, contact your state’s association of professional private investigators. PI Magazine lists all state associations of private investigators (go to Pimagazine.com and, from the “PI Links” menu in the top blue bar, select “State Associations – USA”.