PennDOT has fully implemented the federally mandated National Motor Vehicle Titling Information System, or NMVTIS, providing one more tool to aid PennDOT's extensive efforts to mitigate the risk for vehicle fraud and protect consumers from unsafe or stolen vehicles.

"The implementation of NMVTIS gives PennDOT one more tool to protect vehicle purchasers against fraud," said Kurt J. Myers, PennDOT's deputy secretary for Safety Administration.

NMVTIS is a consolidated database of vehicle titling information compiled by participating state motor vehicle agencies. It allows for the vehicle titling history to be accessible to motor vehicle departments and consumers to verify key vehicle titling information, including Vehicle Identification Number, odometer information, and state "brand" information describing the vehicle's current or prior condition, such as "junk," "salvage," or "flood." Thirty-four states, including Pennsylvania, currently supply information to NMVTIS.

Through NMVTIS, PennDOT will be able to verify a vehicle title by immediately checking electronically against the titling history of approximately 81 percent of the motor vehicles in the U.S. If the information returned by NMVTIS raises any questions, the vehicle will not be titled until further research is conducted to mitigate the potential for fraud.

Auto theft costs insurance companies and consumers nearly $8 billion a year. Only 63 percent of the 1.3 million vehicles stolen annually throughout the U.S. are recovered. "Brand washing" – removing descriptive labels or "brands" assigned by a state to identify a vehicle's condition – when transferring and re-titling a defective or unsafe vehicle in a different state, not only costs consumers money, but potentially endangers their lives.