Trade Group Applauds 2 N.Y. Laws That Target Counterfeit Airbags, VIN Forgeries

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed two pieces of legislation that seek to put greater fraud protections in place and increase safety for the state’s drivers and passengers.

The New York Insurance Association (NYIA) applauded the legislature and the governor for adopting these measures which are now scheduled to take effect Nov. 1, 2013.

One of the bills is S5037B/A6378B. Sponsored by Sen. Lee Zeldin and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the bill would make it illegal in New York to make, distribute, sell or install counterfeit or non-functional airbags. Until now, there was no specific state law in New York that made it a crime to engage in such activities, according to the NYIA.

Another bill is S2098A/A3180A, which was sponsored by Sen. Martin Golden and Assemblyman Peter Abbate. It expands the state’s law in cracking down on vehicle identification number (VIN) forgeries.

Current N.Y. Penal Law section 170.65 does make “forgery of a VIN number” a class E felony and has three categories of what constitutes a forgery. These three categories deal with the destruction or alteration of a VIN or when one places a VIN on a motor vehicle in a manner contrary to N.Y. Vehicle and Traffic Law requirements. The new law added a fourth category, the “making, production or distribution” of a VIN with intent to defraud, according to the NYIA.

“The passage of these measures will help combat fraud,” Ellen Melchionni, president of NYIA said. “Criminal opportunists are always looking for new ways to cheat society for monetary gain. I heartily thank the legislature and Gov. Cuomo for taking a stand against these fraudulent, often dangerous, acts.”

The trend of using a counterfeit or non-functioning airbag has fatal consequences, NYIA said. “Airbags are meant to save lives,” Melchionni added. “The installation of an airbag that is fake or has already been deployed can prove deadly. These tragic circumstances are easily avoidable if a vehicle is equipped with a proper airbag.”

Forging VINs is a common method used to mask the true identity and owner of a stolen car. “Making it a crime to forge a VIN will provide law enforcement with greater tools in tackling theft and fraud.” Melchionni said. “This legislation will help prevent honest, law-abiding New Yorkers from being the victims of theft.”