The various titles and other documents evidencing a car’s history are often key to discovering exactly how a car’s history differs from that represented by the dealer. The detailed title history is often more revealing than the summary title history described in the prior section. Not only is there no substitute for obtaining copies of the actual records to determine if there have been alterations, forgeries, information left blank, and other problems, but the actual records will show the names and addresses of prior owners. These records are also likely to be admissible in court, while a summary title report will not be.
Summary reports also will only reliably indicate transfers to a purchaser for use, and may not indicate transfers from one dealer to another, from an insurance company to a body shop, or from a body shop to a dealer. These transfers may only be reflected on the title’s reassignment blocks or on a separate reassignment form, and do not necessarily result in issuance of a new title.
There are two ways to go about obtaining a detailed title history. One is to contact the DMV in each state where the car has been titled, request the title information, and pay the applicable fees. In Kansas and Missouri, we have provided the information that you need to make this search below:
Kansas Department of Revenue, Titles and Registration, 915 S.W. Harrison, Topeka, KS 66626-0001; www.ksrevenue.org/vehicle.html. The January 2018 (Form TR/DL 302) Motor Vehicle Records form to request a title search is available online as companion material to this treatise, and can also be obtained at www.ksrevenue.org/pdf/trdl302.pdf. There is a fee to obtain title history. The telephone number for more information is (785) 296-3621.
Missouri Department of Revenue, Motor Vehicle Bureau, P.O. Box 2167, Jefferson City, MO 65105-2167; http://dor.mo.gov/motorv. Missouri has a two-step process. The first step is to complete Form 4678, relating to the requester’s qualifications under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. The January 2018 (Form 4678) Request for Security Access Code form is available online as companion material to this treatise, and can also be obtained at http://dor.mo.gov/forms/4678.pdf. Then one submits an application for a particular vehicle’s records. This June 2018 (Form 4803) Request for Information form is available online as companion material to this treatise, and can also be obtained at http://dor.mo.gov/forms/4803.pdf. One can also request Form 4678 by calling (573) 751-4300, and Form 4803 by calling (573) 526-3669, or by visiting http://dor.mo.gov/mvdl/motorv/forms. One can also set up an account so that one can send requests by facsimile and be billed monthly, by calling (573) 526-7367 and requesting the appropriate forms. An example of a facsimile request used by a Missouri consumer attorney is available online as companion material to this treatise. Contact Motor Vehicle Bureau at (573) 526-3669.
The other is to hire a commercial search service to do this job for a fee. For example, Data search, will obtain certified copies of whatever the state DMV is willing to release. Because such companies have established systems to request and receive certain information electronically, certain information can be obtained quickly.
One advantage of a service like Data search is that it is familiar with any restrictions that state DMVs place on release of names and addresses found on titles, particularly in light of new federal restrictions described in the next chapter. The service will obtain whatever information it needs from the requester to determine if the requester has a legitimate purpose to obtain this title information, and then obtain whatever information the DMV will release for such purposes. Data search’s telephone number is (800) 452-3282. It does not have a website. It charges a minimum of $30 per request, plus whatever fee the state department of motor vehicles charges.
Experienced car fraud attorneys invariably use detailed title searches as an essential part of their case and begin the title search as soon as possible. Detailed title histories often take weeks, if not months. Even if a particular state’s registry of motor vehicles is speedy, the title search may indicate that the car has been titled in other states whose registries must also be contacted.
If you have a vehicle that you want investigated, please give us a call today.