How to Spot and Avoid Fake Temporary License Plates

Fake temporary license plates are a growing problem in many states, including Colorado. They are used by drivers who want to evade law enforcement, tolls, insurance, and registration fees. They are also sold by unscrupulous dealers who want to hide the true condition of the vehicles they sell. In this article, we will explain what fake temporary license plates are, how they are made and distributed, and what you can do to protect yourself from them.

What are Fake Temporary License Plates?

Temporary license plates, also known as temp tags, are paper tags that are issued by dealers or motor vehicle agencies when a vehicle is sold or transferred. They are valid for a limited period of time, usually 30 to 60 days, until the owner obtains permanent plates. They are meant to identify the vehicle and its owner, and to ensure that the vehicle is registered, insured, and inspected.

Fake temporary license plates are paper tags that are either counterfeit, stolen, expired, or issued by unauthorized dealers. They are not linked to any vehicle or owner, and they do not comply with the state’s requirements. They are often printed on regular paper, laminated, or covered with plastic to make them look more authentic. They are also altered or forged to change the expiration date, the state, or the barcode.

How are Fake Temporary License Plates Made and Distributed?

Fake temporary license plates are made and distributed by various actors, such as:

Fake Temporary License Plates

  • Criminals who use them to avoid detection and accountability for crimes such as hit-and-run, shootings, robberies, and drug trafficking. They may obtain them from online sources, such as social media, websites, or apps, where they are sold for $100 to $200 each. They may also steal them from other vehicles or make them themselves using software and printers.
  • Dealers who use them to conceal the true history and condition of the vehicles they sell. They may obtain them from other dealers who are part of a network that sells fake temp tags in bulk. They may also issue them themselves using their own dealer credentials or stolen credentials from other dealers. They may do this to avoid paying taxes, fees, and penalties, or to hide the fact that the vehicle is salvaged, damaged, or stolen.
  • Consumers who use them to avoid paying registration, insurance, and inspection fees, or to drive vehicles that are not roadworthy. They may obtain them from dealers who sell them as part of the deal, or from online sources, where they are advertised as a way to save money and hassle. They may also use them to drive vehicles that they do not own, such as rental cars, borrowed cars, or cars with liens.

What are the Risks and Consequences of Fake Temporary License Plates?

Fake temporary license plates pose serious risks and consequences for everyone involved, such as:

  • Safety risks: Fake temp tags make it harder for law enforcement to identify and track down vehicles that are involved in crimes or accidents. They also enable drivers to operate vehicles that are unsafe, uninsured, or stolen, putting themselves and others at risk of injury or death.
  • Financial losses: Fake temp tags cause millions of dollars in losses for state agencies, toll authorities, and insurance companies, who are unable to collect the fees and taxes that are due from vehicle owners. They also cause losses for consumers, who may end up buying vehicles that are defective, fraudulent, or stolen, and face legal troubles, fines, or lawsuits.
  • Legal penalties: Fake temp tags are illegal and carry serious penalties for those who make, sell, or use them. Depending on the state, the penalties may include fines, jail time, vehicle impoundment, license suspension, or revocation.

How to Spot and Avoid Fake Temporary License Plates?

There are some signs and tips that can help you spot and avoid fake temporary license plates, such as:

  • Check the appearance: Fake temp tags may look different from the official ones issued by the state. They may have a different color, font, size, shape, or layout. They may also have errors, such as misspellings, wrong dates, or invalid codes. They may also look faded, wrinkled, or damaged.
  • Check the source: Fake temp tags may come from suspicious sources, such as online sellers, unlicensed dealers, or private parties. They may also come with a low price, a vague explanation, or a pressure tactic. If you are buying a vehicle, always ask for the title, the bill of sale, and the vehicle identification number (VIN), and verify them with the state agency or a trusted third-party service.
  • Check the validity: Fake temp tags may have expired or altered dates, or they may not match the state where the vehicle is registered or sold. They may also not match the vehicle or the owner, or they may be duplicated or reused. You can check the validity of a temp tag by scanning the barcode, calling the issuing agency, or using an online tool or app.

Fake temporary license plates are a serious problem that affects the safety, security, and economy of many states. They are used by criminals, dealers, and consumers who want to evade the law and the fees associated with owning and operating a vehicle. They are made and distributed by various means, such as online platforms, networks, or printers. They pose risks and consequences for everyone involved, such as injuries, deaths, losses, and penalties. They can be spotted and avoided by checking their appearance, source, and validity, and by reporting any suspicious or fraudulent activity to the authorities.

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