Free car history reports are available online from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). To access an online report for any vehicle instantly, type a VIN number into the online VINCheck tool on the NICB website.
The NICB provides this reporting service to help any person in the used car market determine the legal status of a vehicle before entering into a sales transaction. The NICB is a non-profit organization funded by more than 1,000 property and casualty insurance companies around the country. The organization exists to fight against car theft and insurance fraud.
The VINCheck tool provides users access to a comprehensive U.S. law enforcement database of stolen vehicles and a comprehensive national database of salvage vehicles. A salvage vehicle is one that has been determined a total loss by an insurance company, usually due to severe damage in an accident.
To access a car history report that includes more detailed information, you must pay a fee. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is a trustworthy source of car history reports that include information such as odometer readings, title issue dates, title brands and lien checks in addition to theft and salvage information. The NMVTIS is a U.S. government organization, but it provides reports only through the approved third-party providers listed on its website.