Driver’s Privacy Protection Act

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When you’re considering the purchase of a used car, there are so many questions to ask its previous owner, right? If you’ve ever tried to get any personal information for a car’s previous owner from a public auction, you more than likely didn’t succeed. But why is it so hard to retrieve even just the name of the vehicle’s previous owner?

Formerly, anyone could obtain personal data like home and work addresses, contacts, social security numbers, and a lot of other details only by a license plate. Unfortunately, consistent crimes led to legislation prohibiting the disclosure of a driver’s personal data, as a lot of criminals use this free access to chase and intimidate their victims. Eventually, the government adopted the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act in 1994. 

The Diver’s Privacy Protection Act is a United States federal statute governing the privacy of personal data gathered by state Departments of Motor Vehicles. The DPPA generally prohibits state DMVs and other authorized recipients from revealing personal information contained in a driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, and other departmental records. What’s more, the act imposes criminal fines for non-compliance and grants individuals a private right of action including actual and punitive damages.

In fact, the DPPA has a number of exceptions. Depending on the state, it allows the releasing of some information by consent of the person to whom such information applies. Also, a driver’s personal information can be obtained by federal, state, or local agencies to use in carrying out their functions. For instance, insurance companies can get data for internal use like verifying the accuracy of the information, or in connection with the claim investigation process. Sometimes, this information can be provided for research activities or producing statistic reports, but only in cases in which it won’t be published, redisclosed, or used to contact individuals.

Everyone should remember that the tight restrictions affect not only official recipients of the data, but who the data is about in the first place. The DPPA makes it illegal to make false representations to obtain any personal information. So, if you’re considering a used car but lack the information necessary to make an informed purchase, it’s better to run a VIN check. ClearVin combines NMVTIS title branding and auction records with the information from other government agencies to provide the most extensive overview, preserving every potential buyer from having to investigate the vehicle’s history on their own.

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