APRIL 2009

National fraud and theft prevention system goes live

The United States Department of Justice announced the availability of an on-line computer system to help protect states and consumers from automobile fraud and to provide law enforcement with new tools to investigate fraud, theft, and other crimes involving vehicles. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), will be accessible through third party, fee-for-service websites.

The Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) administers NMVTIS in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The system allows state motor vehicle administrators to verify and exchange data and provides critical information regarding vehicle histories. Consumers now have access to the vehicle’s brand history, odometer data and basic vehicle information and can be redirected to the current state of record to access the full title record if available. Law enforcement can track the vehicle’s status from state to state by accessing the system directly.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, car theft is a profitable business generating nearly $8 billion a year. Along with implementing this system, the department has outlined the various responsibilities and reporting requirements for states, auto recyclers, junk yards and salvage yards, and insurance carriers. The department has designed the system consistent with federal law that requires that the system be paid for through user fees and not dependent on federal funding.

Since 1997, the Department of Justice has committed over $15 million to assist states and other stakeholders in the implementation of NMVTIS. Currently, NMVTIS has the participation, or partial participation, of 36 states.

Ultimately, with full participation from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, NMVTIS will prevent stolen motor vehicles, including clones, from entering into interstate commerce, protect states and consumers from fraud, reduce the use of stolen vehicles for illicit purposes including fundraising for criminal enterprises, and provide consumer protection from unsafe vehicles.