Home » Articles » Titles » Odometer Rollback Fraud & True Mileage Unknown
Here’s another side effect of the crazy auto market with prices skyrocketing on used cars. One of the ways fraudsters are taking advantage of this is they buy high-mileage used cars for cheap and roll back the odometer so it looks like the car has less mileage than it shows. With the lower represented mileage, the fraudsters can resell the car at a much higher price to an innocent buyer. Low-mileage used vehicles are becoming increasingly hard to come by, and these fraudsters are banking on the desperation of buyers.
In this article from KSLTV, an investigator showed an example of how he rolled back the odometer of a vehicle from 150,000 to 50,000 with a cheap $300 tool. Now with the assumption of lower miles, you have a vehicle that may be worth $10,000, whereas it is actually worth around $3,000. So the fraudsters can sell the vehicle for much higher and the buyer thinks they’re getting a great deal when really they’re just buying a high-mileage car with a bunch of potential problems.
The high value of used cars skyrocketing has created this problem and the digital odometers make it even worse. Odometers used to be actual wheels inside of the dashboard that turned the numbers mechanically. Now, odometers are all digital so you can actually reprogram them to change the mileage.
The problem comes in for the buyer when it’s time to register and title the vehicle. When a vehicle is titled and registered, the mileage is recorded in the title information system. If you go to register and title your vehicle, but the mileage is lower than previously recorded, this will raise red flags in the system for true mileage unknown (TMU). True mileage unknown is a big deal. If the mileage is unknown, then there is no value because a TMU car can have any amount of miles.
Don’t take the word of the seller or what you see on the odometer, do a title history check to make sure that the vehicle has the mileage it’s supposed to. Don’t get stuck with a car that you think has low mileage and no problems, but has really been through the wringer and has significantly more miles on it than what was represented.
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