Is The Odometer Correct on My Used Car?
A provider of vehicle history reports is offering used car buyers free odometer checks.
Carfax, the company that began instant background checks on used cars in 1986, launched the service in 2004 in response to an odometer rollback scandal in New Jersey.
Early in 2004, FBI agents arrested 17 people in three states in connection with the odometer fraud ring. Authorities said the suspects bought cars at public auctions, tampered with the odometers, and then resold the vehicles at inflated prices.
Thousands of used cars were allegedly involved in the scandal, which resulted in millions of dollars in losses to both car dealers and consumers. In one case, authorities report the suspects took 50,000 miles off the odometer of a 2000 Buick Century.
Kristy Darcey, director of Consumer Affairs for Carfax, said the company was concerned about the potential for consumer fraud.
Odometer fraud is the illegal act of rolling back the odometer to make a car appear as if it has traveled fewer miles. Vehicles whose odometers have been tampered with can be sold at a higher price because the odometer reading is a key indicator of the car’s value.
According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, there are more than 450,000 cases of odometer fraud in the United States each year, which costs consumers an extra $1 billion per year.
Odometer fraud is considered one of the most common used-car scams.
The free odometer check from Carfax gives consumers a way to compare vehicle history records assembled from thousands of different sources with the odometer reading on the dashboard of the car they want to buy.
Consumers can access the last reported odometer reading by entering the 17-digit vehicle identification number for the car.