License Plate Lookup Scam Alert -- Always Read the Fine Print!
Updated on July 18, 2018
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Not all license plate lookup services are the same. If you want to see if a particular service is really worth your time and money, you’ve got to read the fine print.
For example, we logged onto Search Quarry, a popular license plate lookup website. Right at the top, we saw the headline “Search Our Private Database for All Vehicle & Driving Records”. A little further down, we saw them promise “the most up to date information available”.
Sounds great, right?
It does — until you actually put them to the test!
We typed a fake license plate number (abc123) into their search box. Some fancy animation popped up, and then — voila! — we were told that our report was ready. To see it, though, we had to pay the $1 fee AND sign up for a continuing subscription that costs $19.95 per month. However, there’s no guarantee the information in that report is actually accurate!
How do we know that?
Search Quarry told us! Specifically, in teeny-tiny print, it said:
“Please be aware that the information obtained using SearchQuarry.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 people don’t read this part because they’re so impressed with the fancy sales copy and customer testimonials. One of Search Quarry’s testimonials grabbed our attention because it said, “I had thought that only police officers had access to this information. I feel like I can’t afford not to have access to this information.”
This testimonial makes it sound like Search Quarry has access to the same resources as law enforcement, but that’s not true! Their own disclaimer says they use “various public sources”, and that’s NOT what law enforcement uses!
Search Quarry isn’t alone, though. Verispy.com works very similarly to Search Quarry. Here’s what their fine print says:
“Verispy.com receives its information from various sources, including internet sites. We do not create, verify, or guarantee the data as being accurate for it is collected from sources that may be slow to update or revise information collected… As a Public Information Broker, we do not provide any non-publicly available information such as any credit based data, medical records, insurance records, employment history, social security numbers or any other information that is not made available to the general public.”
In layman’s terms, this means they only provide information that’s already publicly available. However, current license plate records are NOT available to the public! As soon as we read their fine print, we knew any license plate lookup we did through them would likely be inaccurate.
To add insult to injury, the bottom of each page on Verispy.com says “Background Checks have been featured on many popular networks”. All of the pretty logos underneath this sentence make you think that Verispy’s background checks are the ones that were featured. They stop just short of saying that, though. It’s proof that you have to read EVERYTHING on these websites carefully — even the big print!
For our third test, we logged onto Everify.com, which includes their affiliates LicensePlatesLookup.com and eLicensePlates.com. Whatever you choose to call them, you’ll see fancy sales copy, testimonials, and animations that are similar to other two. However, if you look closely at the fine print in their Terms of Service you’ll see:
“You agree and understand that the availability of a search report does not necessarily mean the report will yield correct results, relevant results, or any results at all.”
Bottom line — the fine print tells the real story. The vast majority of license plate search websites have similar fine print. If you don’t bother to read it, you’ll think your license plate information is legitimate when it’s really not!
Need help navigating the fine print? Just keep these myths in mind:
License Plate Lookup Scams: Myth vs Reality
Myth #1 — License plate lookups are public records.
Reality — Current license plate records are NOT available to the public. Only law enforcement and licensed private investigators are allowed to access a state’s DMV computer and get current information Data aggregators — like the websites we’ve mentioned — are only allowed to buy old records.
Myth #2 — Instant Results are better.
Reality — Instant results are like a giant, neon sign saying that the website doesn’t have access to current DMV records. To work instantly, the website has to spit out information that’s already sitting on its server. The ONLY kind of information that’s available this way is the old records that data aggregators have purchased.
Myth #3 — The license plate search is so cheap that you can’t go wrong.
Reality — These searches aren’t nearly as cheap as they claim to be! Read the fine print, and you’ll see that you’ve actually got to sign up for an expensive monthly subscription to see your results.
Myth #4 — You’ll get unlimited access to license plate information.
Reality — Yes, you’ll get unlimited access, but it will be to license plate records that are 3-5 years out of date!
Myth #5 — License plate searches can be done in any state.
Law enforcement can access current license plate information in every state, but in 13 states, even licensed private investigators aren’t given permission to see the information.
How is Docusearch different?
We skip the hype!
We’ll give you the current registered owner’s name and address for license plates in the 37 states we have access to, without forcing you into an expensive subscription. We can deliver most results in less than one hour, during business hours. The price for one of our license plate lookups will vary, since some DMV records cost more to access than others — but the average fee is around $40.
See the exact cost and return time for each state at License Plate Lookups.