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Auto fraud database will help used car buyers sniff out lemons

Sixteen years after Congress first told the federal government to create a national, publicly-accessible database enabling used car buyers to check if a vehicle has been stolen or salvaged, we are getting action.

The Department of Justice is finally making the database available to consumers Friday, something that happened only after Public Citizen, joined by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and Consumer Action, sued the DOJ last year. The database will contain information on vehicles reported by insurance companies, salvagers and junk yards.

READ more about the lawsuit.

While this is a huge step in the public’s favor, the problem is nowhere near over.  New York and California are refusing to make the vehicle data available to the public, though they do sell it to private companies, such as Carfax.

In response, Public Citizen held a telephone news conference today to discuss the need for this data to be readily available to the public.

Bill Ellsworth of Jamul, Calif., whose son was killed five years ago in a crash involving a salvaged vehicle that had no airbags. Instead, the compartment for the airbags was stuffed with papers.  He said he was outraged that the state of California was more interested in making money than saving lives.  If this database had been created in a timely manner, the vehicle that his son was riding in might never have been on the road.

SEE if your state is participating in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS).

READ the press release.