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Looking Up Liens On A Vehicle

  • 3 min read

If you have a vehicle that you’re buying or have already bought and you’re not sure about the status of it with regard to liens, how do you look up the liens on a vehicle? Lien information is not allowed to be disclosed by the places you would think you’d get it from, like the DMV or the lien holder. They’re not allowed to give you information on if there’s a loan on a car or how much it is, and a bank or lender is not supposed to give you information about somebody else’s bank account, and that’s what a loan is, a bank account, so you might get lucky with the DMV. They might disclose something, or they might at least give you the name of the bank, and you might get lucky and get the bank to give you information about the loan.

You’re more likely to get information from a non-traditional bank, like a title pawn shop or a second chance at finance. These kinds of companies are often more likely to give you information because they want to get paid. And if those companies have a loan that’s in default or non-performing, somebody is calling about it. They might give information to try to get something to collect on that loan, but the bigger banks, the more traditional banks like Wells Fargo or credit unions or whatnot, are less likely to give out information on somebody else’s account without authorization from that person, and you may have a lower probability of doing it.

So getting any kind of paperwork from the borrower, like a power of attorney or an authorization letter, will help you. Get that information for the bank. If you don’t have that, one thing you might hope for is that the bank is out of business or closed, and you might think that’s a problem. And it kind of is because you have nowhere to go, but you can check with the secretary of state to find out which company took over the assets of that closed lender. Once you find that out, you can contact the parent company or a subsequent company. They might be more likely to give you information because it’s not really their loan. They just bought these assets, and they had to keep books for the worst-case scenario. If you are told that there’s a loan or lien on the vehicle by the DMV, that has to be satisfied before the release of the title. Your other option is to get what’s called a “letter of no interest.”

So if the bank won’t give you any information or if they say the loan is closed, we don’t know about it. If you can get them to write you a letter saying they don’t have an interest in the vehicle and the name on that letter matches what the DMV has, you’re clear; you can now get a title for that car. So there are a few different approaches for getting lienholder information on a vehicle. Try a couple of different things. See if you get lucky with the DMV; see if you get lucky with the bank; if not, you can contact us. We do some lean mitigation work for clients, but more than likely a lot of this stuff you can do yourself. Worst-case scenario: you get a letter of non-interest. See how you can make that fly with the DMV.



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