Odometer Title Record Fraud Is Increasing

The current frenzy in the auto market, with used car prices reaching unprecedented heights, has inadvertently given rise to a new breed of fraud: odometer tampering. As consumers struggle to find affordable vehicles with low mileage, opportunistic scammers are exploiting the situation by purchasing high-mileage cars at a bargain and then manipulating the odometer to inflate the vehicle’s value.

The Scam Unveiled

In this nefarious scheme, fraudsters are acquiring high-mileage vehicles at a lower cost and employing inexpensive odometer correction tools, priced at a mere $300. These tools connect to the car’s computer, allowing the hacker to roll back the mileage. As a result, a vehicle that originally had 150,000 miles on the odometer could be deceptively altered to display a mere 50,000 miles. The consequence? A car that may have realistically been valued at $10,000 is artificially inflated to $6,000 or $7,000, duping unsuspecting buyers into believing they’re getting a great deal.

The Digital Odometer Dilemma

Unlike older models with mechanical odometers, modern vehicles feature digital displays, making it easier for scammers to tamper with the mileage using computer-based tools. While the act of rolling back odometers is illegal, the surge in prices has emboldened criminals to take advantage of the desperation in the market.

Title History: The Telltale Sign

The catch in this fraudulent practice becomes apparent when it’s time to register the car. The prior mileage, accurately recorded in the title history, clashes with the altered odometer reading. In the event of a dispute or conflict, the title is marked as “TMU” (True Mileage Unknown). This designation renders the car essentially worthless, as the true mileage could be anything, leaving buyers with a potentially problematic vehicle.

Protect Yourself: Do a Title History Check

To safeguard against falling victim to odometer fraud, buyers are strongly advised not to rely solely on the seller’s word or the information displayed on the car. Performing a comprehensive title history check is essential to ensure that the vehicle’s mileage aligns with the seller’s claims. This precautionary step can spare buyers from acquiring a seemingly low-mileage gem that, in reality, has endured extensive wear and tear, potentially accumulating hundreds of thousands of miles.

Stay Informed, Stay Protected

As the used car market continues its turbulent journey, it’s crucial for consumers to remain vigilant. Odometer fraud is a serious issue that can lead to financial loss and safety concerns. By staying informed, conducting thorough checks, and being cautious of deals that seem too good to be true, buyers can navigate the market with confidence and protect themselves from falling prey to this insidious scam.

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