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EpicVIN seeks out data from repair shops for vehicle history reports

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Business Practices
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EpicVIN says it wants to partner with collision repair and auto shops across the U.S. to collect vehicle maintenance and repair history reports then pass the information on to potential car buyers for free.

According to EpicVIN’s website, the company is an approved National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) data provider and has been providing comprehensive vehicle history reports to car buyers since 2012.

Company spokesperson Alice Coleman told Repairer Driven News the process of receiving maintenance and service records data from participating shops is automated through software developed by EpicVIN’s IT team and other companies.

“We have already had conversations with companies that develop software programs for repair shops and they are ready to work with us,” Coleman said. “They will only need the repair shops’ consent to provide their data for EpicVIN, and the process will be automated with the software.”

RepairSmith, owned by Auto Nation, was the first shop to participate in the new program that launched in September. There haven’t been any hacking issues and the software doesn’t collect names, addresses, or phone numbers of repair shop customers, according to Coleman. She noted that under varying state laws, sharing personal customer information is prohibited.

EpicVIN will work with participating shops to individualize the process by which the data is transferred will be individualized with each shop that chooses to participate.

“We’re inviting more shops to join the program to provide more data for car buyers and we’re providing free advertising to repair shops [in return],” Coleman said. “Joining the program is free of cost — it is a beneficial partnership.”

Coleman provided the following example of the advertising, including a link to the shop’s website, that would be included on each vehicle history report generated from the information provided, respective to each shop the data came from:

She explained that, for now, RepairSmith is the only participant and continues to own all of the data that it shares with EpicVIN, which would be the case for other shops as well. The only information requested by EpicVIN is repair service records — “what problem the vehicle had and what repair service had been performed by the shop workers,” Coleman said.

“On their [RepairSmith] end, they ask their users for all the necessary agreements regarding the data they send us. The data provided by repair shops is presented in our vehicle history reports so they know how and where the data is used. …We are ready to discuss different conditions of partnership with auto repair shops that will reach out to us. We’re open to negotiation.”

In January, the Collision Industry Conference (CIC)’s Data Access, Privacy & Security Committee invited two attorneys on stage for a panel discussion on data security and privacy, which included advice for shops to put together a list of standard operating procedures and best practices that meet state laws and potential federal legislation for what has to be included in customer disclosures and notifications, guidelines for protecting PII, and getting customer consent.

Stamford-based attorney and Silver Golub & Teitell partner Steven Bloch, said the chain of custody of PII should be of the utmost importance to shops.

“Understanding the information that you’re sharing with your industry partners and your vendors through your various license agreements and the other transactions that you’re conducting with them first and foremost, of course, is the protection of the customer’s PII and that’s effectively the concern of the shops,” he said.

However, “there’s no perfect solution,” he said. In fact, there’s no way to prevent how data is used down the supply chain if it were to improperly end up in the hands of data brokers but “you’ve got to take every protective or preventive measure you can,” Bloch said.

Shops that provide maintenance and repair records for EpicVIN history reports “will be rewarded with a spotlight in the report as a trusted partner with an advertisement and direct link to the shop,” according to EpicVIN.

Coleman provided an example of the vehicle history reports EpicVIN provides, which can be viewed here. It contains a picture of the vehicle, its VIN, mileage, open safety recalls, accident, damage, sales history, and the number of owners.

During CIC’s meeting last JulySociety of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg shared that a collision industry data aggregation company told him its providing or selling personally identifiable information (PII) data, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and more to at least one third-party company to sell the information back to the industry.

Schulenburg didn’t name the company but said they told him, “Through our data aggregation partners and processes we collect 86% of all quoted collision repairs in North America whether the quote is taken through a body shop or an insurance carrier. In other words, when a consumer takes their car in for a repair – whether if it’s an insurance carrier or not – that data goes into our system within 24 hours.”

Also during the CIC meeting, Tom Allen with ConditionNow said warned that, while data sharing is an ethical and philosophical issue, he said it should also matter to shops because customers who are upset about their information going where they didn’t give consent will give the shop they took their vehicles to the brunt of their discontent. The shop becomes the “face of the issue,” he said.

RDN addressed potential data privacy concerns through EpicVIN’s program with Coleman. She said EpicVIN doesn’t sell or provide the data it collects to third parties. “We only use it in our vehicle history reports to show a complete and comprehensive vehicle history for our clients.”

“We believe that one should know the history of the car they want to purchase,” Coleman said. “So, we offer an opportunity for auto repair shops to help us make vehicle history available and transparent for car buyers to secure their purchase.”

According to RepairSmith, an average order of data that customers can now obtain for free from EpicVIN is valued at $330, EpicVIN said in a news release.

EpicVIN’s news release cites specific mechanical automotive maintenance procedures and repairs, including brake, battery, and alternator repairs or replacements. However, the company’s new data collection program is open to collision repairers as well. Also, anyone can use EpicVIN’s free “License Plate Lookup” or VIN decoder to obtain “valuable data” on any vehicle.

Coleman said the data currently available is from used vehicle history reports in the U.S. “However, for now not all of them contain repair service data since we’ve just recently started partnering with auto repair shops. We hope to get data for more vehicles with new shops joining the program.”

Used and “cheap” cars are available for sale on EpicVIN’s website.


Featured image credit: Constantinis/iStock

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