Odometer fraud can leave buyers with lemons

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the annual cost to consumers of odometer fraud in the auto industry is between $4 and $10 billion. Odometer fraud is illegal under both federal and Pennsylvania law. When a person buys a vehicle, the seller must provide a disclosure, in writing, of the number of miles registered by the vehicle's odometer. If the mileage displayed by the odometer is not the vehicle's correct mileage, the seller is required to make a statement on the title reflecting the discrepancy.

An odometer might be tampered with in different ways. One common example occurs when unscrupulous dealers try to sell a vehicle after rolling the odometer back, which is resetting it to display a lower-than-accurate mileage. Auto dealers might engage in such tactics to increase the resale value of cars on their lots; online sellers might buy a high-mileage vehicle and then attempt to resell it quickly, for a higher price, after resetting the odometer.

Consumers may also engage in odometer fraud for different reasons. A person might try to roll back the odometer, for example, in order to represent that the vehicle is under warranty limits. A person who leases a car might roll the odometer back to avoid paying mileage penalties.

In a case where a person suspects odometer fraud or other fraudulent activity on the part of a company doing business in Pennsylvania, an attorney might be able to help. An attorney with experience in consumer protection law might suggest legal remedies or communicate with the at-fault parties to seek resolution. An attorney may review the facts of the situation and gather evidence in support of a claim for recovery. In cases where an out-of-court settlement cannot be reached, an attorney might draft and file the legal documents required to initiate a civil case.

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