Odometer fraud is the illegal practice of rolling back an odometer to make it appear that a motor vehicle has lower mileage than it actually does. Any person who disconnects, resets, or alters the odometer on a motor vehicle with the intent to defraud a subsequent purchaser or lessee is in violation of federal law. Penalties can include a civil fine of up to $2000 for each violation and imprisonment for up to three years. Violators may also be liable in a private lawsuit for three times the actual damages or $1500, whichever is greater.
Federal law requires that any person transferring ownership of a motor vehicle provide the transferee a written disclosure of the cumulative mileage registered on the odometer or if the actual mileage is unknown, a disclosure to that effect. That disclosure is to be contained on the title issued in connection with each transfer.
The written disclosure must be signed by the transferor, including his or her printed name. The transferor must certify that to the best of his or her knowledge, the odometer reading reflects the actual mileage, or that the odometer reading reflects the amount of mileage in excess of the designed mechanical odometer limit. If the transferor knows that the odometer reading differs from the mileage, he must include a statement that the odometer reading does not reflect the actual mileage and should not be relied upon.
In addition, the disclosure must contain the following information:
- The odometer reading at the time of the transfer (not including tenths of miles).
- The date of the transfer.
- The transferor’s name and current address.
- The transferee’s name and current address.
- The identity of the vehicle, including its make, model, year, and body type, and its vehicle identification number.
- The written disclosure must also refer to the Federal law and shall state that failure to complete or providing false information may result in fines and/or imprisonment.
If you suspect odometer fraud with a vehicle purchase, report it: