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Odometer fraud a growing problem as used car market heats up

It took only seconds to change a 2009 Chevy’s mileage from 150,996 to 51,013.
Posted at 2:15 PM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 19:45:56-05

INDIANAPOLIS — As scammers look to capitalize on a hot used car market, records reveal odometer fraud is a growing problem in Central Indiana.

It’s an issue WRTV Investigates has been tracking for several years now.

A technician demonstrated for WRTV Investigates just how easy it is for conmen to use a simple tool and electronically roll back an odometer.

It took only seconds to change a 2009 Chevy’s mileage from 150,996 to 51,013.

A spokesperson said this change would increase the Chevy’s value by $3,000 to $7,300.

“Con men can make a quick buck by rolling these odometers back,” said Emilie Voss, a spokesperson for Carfax, a company that provides vehicle history information to consumers.

If you buy a rolled back vehicle, it could cost you thousands of dollars in value up front, plus even more money to maintain the car throughout its life.

"We do know in Indiana, the problem is also going up,” said Emilie Voss, a spokesperson for Carfax. “It's up 12 percent last year compared to last year and in the Indianapolis area, there's more than 11,000 vehicles that Carfax estimates are on the road. This is definitely a growing problem."

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Carfax offers a free odometer fraud check. You can also request a full Carfax or Autocheck report on the car’s maintenance and crash history, which could also indicate possible odometer fraud.

Keep in mind, most cars average 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year, so if that’s way off, it could be a red flag.

Look at the gas and brake pedals for wear and tear to see if it’s matching up with the mileage.

In addition, you should have a mechanic look at the car before buying.

One-third of all car sales are through private sales, such as through Craigslist and other online forums, according to vehicle history report company Carfax.

Some private sellers may not disclose a car’s hidden problems or the real mileage so that they can get more money for the vehicle.

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