Can You Really Find a Vehicle Owner by License Plate? Absolutely!
Updated on June 18, 2018
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There it is. That car that keeps slowly passing by your house. One day, you catch a glimpse of the license plate, but what can you do with it?
It’s easy to find a vehicle’s owner by its license plate; you just have to know how the process works.
Unfortunately, most people think that only police officers can run a license plate, but a licensed private investigator has access to all of the same information.
As long as you have a permissible purpose, you can hire a licensed investigator run a license plate search. There’s a long list of DPPA Permissible Purposes, but here are some of the most common scenarios:
– A car sideswiped you and took off, and you need to provide the vehicle owner’s name and address to your insurance company.
– You’re trying to recover a debt from someone, but you don’t have their full name and address.
– You’re involved in a fraud investigation, and the only thing you know about the suspect is his license plate number.
– Your ex owes you child support and no longer lives at the address you have for him, but you know his license plate number.
Can you skip the private investigator and do the searching yourself?
Nope! Even with a proper permissible purpose, you can’t dig into current information at the Department of Motor Vehicles without a license.
But what about all of those websites that say otherwise?
This is a common misconception because so many scammy websites have climbed to the top of the Google search results. However, no website can let you type in a license plate number and instantly pull up the current owner’s name and address. Some websites also promise free and unlimited searches, but that’s not true either.
Nothing is free. You may get to type in a license plate number for free, but if you actually want to see the results, you’ll have to pay up. Some websites even force you to sign up for an expensive monthly subscription to see your results.
Even worse, these results are inaccurate. These websites aren’t run by licensed private investigators, so it’s impossible for them to have current DMV information. Instead, these websites are merely data aggregators who buy a bunch of old DMV records and hope you don’t know the difference.
Look carefully at the fine print on these websites, and you’ll likely spot a disclaimer like this:
“Please be aware that the information obtained using Search——.com searches may not always be accurate and up to date as we do not create, verify, or guarantee the accuracy or the amount of information provided through our service. Data availability is largely dependent on various public sources from which the information is aggregated…”
Most states re-use license plate numbers, which means the vehicle owner you saw listed on one of those “free” websites probably hasn’t owned that plate for several years. Sadly, most people don’t learn the real story until they’ve spent their hard-earned money. Here at Docusearch, we receive about a dozen phone calls every day from people who have been scammed.
If you want to find a vehicle owner by his license plate number, here’s how the conversation should go:
- “Where do your license plate lookups come from?”
At the state DMV. Currently, our team has access to 38 state DMV computers (see the full list at https://www.docusearch.com/category/license-plate-lookup) and we search all of them by hand.
- “How long does this take?”
Usually it only takes about an hour. In some states, it may take a couple of days. Either way, you’ll get accurate information because the source is the DMV!
- “How much does this cost?”
A reputable licensed private investigator will only charge you a small one-time fee. Here at Docusearch, our average fee is $39 and roughly $25 of that goes to the state DMV because they charge us for each search we run. There are no hidden fees or any forced subscriptions.
Now that you know what goes into a legitimate search, you know how easy it is to find a vehicle’s owner by it’s license plate!
About Docusearch- We’re licensed private investigators specializing in license plate lookups that come from the state DMV, not an outdated database. In business and on the Web since 1996, we have access to 38 states across the country. Results may not be instant, but we’re fast; often in less than one hour.
Additional Articles on finding the vehicle owner by license plate:
License Plate Lookup Scam Alert — Always Read the Fine Print!
License Plate Search – How to Search License Plate Numbers Online
Is It Legal to Run a License Plate? (The answer may surprise you!)
License Plate Lookup: The Untold Story
Why Use a Licensed PI For Your License Plate Search?
Is There a Free License Plate Lookup?
License Plate Lookup Search: How to Reverse Any License Plate