You've purchased your dream car. You got a great deal on it and all your friends congratulate you on it.

Then one day, law enforcement pulls into your driveway along with a National Insurance Crime Bureau Special Agent.

They want to inspect your car. The NICB Special Agent looks at a hidden VIN on your car and determines your car is actually a stolen car. In comes the tow truck and away goes your car.

What happened? In an attempt to disguise the stolen car, the thieves have replaced the VIN on the stolen car with a VIN from a car that has not been stolen. That car may be (and usually is) somewhere across country or, perhaps, in Canada. They've also created the documents needed. They've figured out that only six state licensing agencies communicate with each other. Until we have a federal titling law, or all the states (and Canada) communicate, these frauds will continue to happen.

Ways to protect yourself:

Check the VIN's under the hood and on the door - do they match the dash? If not, walk away (and call NICB - 1-800-TEL-NICB).

If there's no lien holder on the car and the car is fairly new, does the seller look like he/she would not have a lien holder?

Is the only information you have about the seller is a name and a cell phone number? And they want to meet you in a parking lot? No thanks, have a nice day!

Run a vehicle history car report ALWAYS.

If things don't add up, buy another car.

Your insurance policy may cover you (thus we all pay for this fraud) or it may not...then you're the one who loses.