HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Drivers are upset after learning about a website that reveals information about the owner when the vehicle identification number (VIN) is entered. We ran the numbers of several dozen vehicles on thatsthem.com and it returned information about half the time.
“They can do that?” asked one startled driver when we showed her how we used her VIN to get her name and address in about 30 seconds. “It makes me feel insecure.”
We are revealing the name of the website so that drivers can test it with their own VINs and opt out if they choose.
It’s not like CarFax where you enter a VIN number and it tells you about the vehicle’s maintenance history. Thatsthem gives information about the owner – name, address, and in some cases phone number and email address. We ran the VIN of a late-model Mercedes SUV and verified with the owner that we had obtained her current address and cell phone number.
Drivers are concerned in general about the potential uses of the information, even when their vehicles do not produce information. “You could typically tell where someone lives from their address, what type of economic stature that they have,” said Jaqueline Shannon, “and it could go toward somebody committing crimes.”
The vehicles that do return driver information have no discernible pattern. 10 On Your Side ran the VINs of vehicles purchased both new and used, late-model and older, cars trucks and SUVs, in state and out-of-state. We got results about half the time.
We asked Thatsthem where they get their information. Here’s a summary of the website’s email response:
The site currently has about 15,000 unique visitors per day… we do not disclose the specific sources for our data, but I can tell you the data is sourced from both public and commercially available sources.”
We’re not sure to whom the word “I” refers in the previous sentence, because no one put their name on the response.
Thatsthem is registered with another site, domainsbyproxy. Ironically it’s a service that “believes… you should be able to keep your personal contact information private when you register a domain name.”
We also checked with industry associations involving auto insurance and auto dealers, and both deny any involvement with the information available on thatsthem.
Drivers told 10 On Your Side they will definitely opt out after we showed them their personal information, and were disgusted with the amount of information available over the internet in general.