Used car listings covering license plates

I’ve been looking on Craigslist, Letgo and a few other places online at used cars and so many people go to odd lengths to obscure their license plates in the photos. Some use a towel, some hold a finger in front of the lens of the camera and I saw one earlier today where a woman held up her foot to block it out. Considering that license plates are something that everybody can see anyway, what is the point of covering them up?

As best I can tell, folks do that because the advertisement supplies additional information, like a phone number, that then might be used to gain further information by doing a DMV search. Or maybe it’s just that in some states one can do a DMV search with only the license plate number, and the advertisers don’t want that…

I see that and think that it is unnecessary, but if it makes the person feel more secure fine.

1 Like

There’s all sorts of things people come up with to be worried about, and this is another one. If someone wants to look at the car, what is the owner going to do, blindfold them?

1 Like

If a seller feels more secure covering the plate, the more power to them. You aren’t buying the plate, you’re buying the vehicle.

It may be false security, but why gamble?


Some of them may be covering up the plate to conceal what state the car is actually in to make it hard for you to find them if you are foolish enough to buy a car someone is going to ship you that never arrives.

I saw a car on Buffalo NY craigslist that the “owner” said he needed to be wired some money before he could get the car released from storage. The money was supposed to be sent to his brother who lived in Buffalo, where the car was garaged. He was selling it for a very low price because he has been sent overseas.

If this hokum was not enough to put you off, there were PALM TREES in the photos of the car.

You cover up the license plate so that your address cannot be found. I never put my address in Craigslist, nor show my license plate, or even post my normal cell number. I use a service that provides me with a 2nd phone number with no address. Sort of a “burner” phone. I choose to meet the buyer at a local convenience store because I want a public place and security cameras. If the item is so large, I cannot trans port it, I only give an address to an interested party that has scheduled to see it. As for cars, similar deal, meet them at a public place, like the DMV next to the Sheriff’s office.


On a related note, some car dealerships grab your license plate number as you drive into their lot. By the time you begin talking with a salesperson, they already know more about you than you ever realized.

I would think it’s prudent to hide plate numbers for online postings like craigslist.

I’ve never understood this. It’s not just Craigslist adverts, but also social media posts where the person’s full name and location are part of the profile visible to all. Like many, I am suspicious of anyone who would do that and then offer to sell me something.

I don’t get it either. My license plate is 179 ETC. Go ahead. Do your worst.

1 Like

It is not necessary to share your home address with everyone that might read the ad. Once a prospective buyer is vetted and is serious about buying, then sharing addresses might be in order.

1 Like

I understand why people do it but it really makes no sense since your plate is displayed every mile that you drive. If someone wants to con you they just pretend to be an interested buyer and they get your information easier than going to the DMV. In my state for $1, you can pull the DMV records for any vehicle. It has owner’s info and any lien holders info.

I buy and sell many things online. I am less paranoid about selling something then buying. The buyer is bringing fists full of cash and the seller is bringing merchandise. With that being said, I still don’t meet at my house unless it is unavoidable. Do do always carry my good friend with me.

Your good friend is do do? Ba-da-boom.

I hope you mean a good human friend and not a good friend named Smith or Wesson.

1 Like

Oh, heck, yes!

I mean, you sell a car to somebody…and heaven forbid anything breaks in the next month; they assume you “conned” them…and they know where you live. Anything I’ve sold on C-list, I’ve had them meet me at a public location.

Many people don’t realize what a vulnerability it is, letting someone know where YOU live, when you don’t know where THEY live! I have friends from all walks of life, and the “rich folk” just don’t grasp this; most “poor folk” guard their address, and treat it as “need-to-know” information. As it should be.

I’ve had a hairy instance or two with Craigslist…nothing harming me personally, but the oddest was when I helped a guy put up drywall, and move across the country. Turned out, after the fact, that pretty serious charges were filed against him, and he was extradited from NM to PA to face them! (I knew when I did the job that the guy was “sneaking out of town,” but he had unpaid taxes on multiple properties, so I thought that was all of it. Boy, was I wrong!)


I’m pretty sure that’s EXACTLY what he means. And why not? Get your CCW and nobody needs to know, but you, when you’re armed. You’d never know if somebody is armed…unless you take the wrong sort of action, at which point, you may find, to your chagrin, that your “easy mark”…isn’t.

Covering the license plate was a common practice even back in the mid 70s in Easyriders magazine. Many Harley owners whose bikes were featured would place a cover over the plates to prevent potential thieves from using the plate to obtain personal info including a home address and then steal the bike.

1 Like

I posted a picture of a beyond the age of reason,and obliterated the plate, seemed prudent


It would be quite humorous, to see that truck from underneath, when it’s on a hoist

I assume it would look like swiss cheese. Maybe the frame would even break when you attempted to lift it

1 Like

The frame is an object of past reference as I think it does not exist, woe to the shop that needs to lift that vehicle. Just felt covering plates was something I should do.

I recently listed a vehicle on ebay (, and I admit I only did it because I’ve seen other people do it. However, it took me all of five seconds to redact the license plates in each picture using Microsoft Paint. I didn’t have to go to any great lengths to do it.