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Consumer Advisory: NHTSA Tips to Protect Against Odometer Fraud

| Washington, DC

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is issuing a consumer advisory to protect the public from becoming victims of odometer fraud. Yesterday, two men from Mississippi pled guilty in a large-scale vehicle odometer rollback scheme. The case was investigated by the United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Odometer Fraud Investigation, with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Marshals Service. 

 “We will not tolerate the illegal practice of odometer tampering,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said. “NHTSA, the Department of Justice, and State DOT partners are committed to bringing individuals who commit this crime to justice.”

Odometer fraud is the disconnection, resetting, or alteration of a vehicle’s odometer with the intent to change the number of miles indicated. NHTSA estimates that more than 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer readings. 

NHTSA has a special hotline for odometer fraud complaints. Consumers with information relating to odometer tampering should call 800-424-9393 or 888-327-4236. Consumers can also file a complaint online at www.NHTSA.gov/Equipment/Odometer-Fraud

The following is a list of tips to help used-car buyers detect odometer fraud:

  • Ask to see the title and compare the mileage on it with the vehicle’s odometer. Be sure to examine the title closely if the mileage notation seems obscured or is not easy to read.
  • Digital odometers can be reprogrammed to display a lower or false mileage. Compare the mileage on the odometer with the mileage indicated on the vehicle’s maintenance or inspection records. Also, search for oil change and maintenance stickers on windows or door frames, in the glove box or under the hood.
  • Examine the tires. If the odometer on your car shows 20,000 or less, it should have the original tires.
  • Look at the wear and tear on the vehicle—especially the gas, brake and clutch pedals—to be sure it seems consistent with and appropriate for the number of miles displayed on the odometer.
  • Request a vehicle history report to check for odometer discrepancies in the vehicle’s history. If the seller does not have a vehicle history report, use the car’s VIN to order a vehicle history report online.
  • If you suspect fraud, contact NHTSA and your State’s enforcement agency.

NHTSA

NHTSAmedia@dot.gov 202-366-9550

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