Odometer Fraud and Auto Fraud. Was My Odometer Rolled Back? Can I sue?
Consumer Fraud and Odometer Roll Back
A rollback odometer can be your worst nightmare. Imagine this. You go to a dealership looked at the odometer and you by a car. The price you pay is based on what the odometer reads at the time of the purchase. You use that odometer reading to price online to shop and make an offer. Now, after the purchase you find out that the odometer reading or the mileage reading on the vehicle when you bought it is not correct and not accurate. What can you do if the odometer does not read the proper mileage?
You have numerous options including suing the selling dealership. You might even have other options which would to file suit against other dealerships in the chain of title. Under New Jersey law including the Consumer Fraud Act you could potentially sue other individuals in the chain of title who sold the vehicle with the improper or wrong mileage.
There are some qualifications for these claims however they exist under New Jersey law under many circumstances. So, if you buy a vehicle and you learn that the odometer is not the proper odometer reading whether it be by rollback or otherwise it doesn't really matter because you have been damaged. What matters is that you have numerous claims against other potentially viable defendants for an ascertainable loss you have sustained.
In the case where the odometer cannot be properly read usually the terms of total mileage unknown apply. When you have to sell a vehicle and the mileage is unknown you are going to have to tell the purchaser that you do not know the mileage. This defect in the mileage creates a defect in the value of the vehicle which creature ascertainable or measurable loss. This is a real problem for real people with real vehicles where the mileage is unknown. Odometer rollback's cost people a lot of money on vehicles that they thought they knew what they were buying. If the odometer is improper or has been rolled back you of potentially have various claims under New Jersey law
Odometer rollback costs consumers millions. Once you determine that your vehicle has an odometer discrepancy, has been rolled back or there is another issue cannot state with reasonable accuracy the mileage on the vehicle it must be characterized as a TMU or total mileage unknown.
You cannot completely and accurately complete the odometer disclosure statement required under federal law. Thus, the market penalized value of the vehicle approximately 50%.
This means if you do not know the mileage, cannot state the mileage where there is some issue with the mileage you cannot refill out the odometer disclosure statement which impacts the value of the vehicle. This is the key to odometer fraudRolling Back the Odometer
Federal odometer law is a very powerful federal statute which states that it is unlawful for a person to sell a vehicle knowing the odometer is rolled back, or to actually roll back the odometer. The statute also prohibits not providing a complete copy of the odometer disclosure statement and the failure to obtain complete odometer disclosure statement from the seller.Damages
The federal odometer law provides damages in the amount of the reduced value of the vehicle, reduced resale value of the vehicle, increased finance charges, increased insurance charges, increased taxes, and anticipated costs and time spent resolving any problems created by the fraud.Warranty History, Title History, CARFAX History, AutoCheck History
Every day more sources of information are being reported to various database collectors such as CARFAX, AutoCheck and Experian. Therefore, it is more difficult to find the appropriate circumstances in which an odometer may be rolled back without a subsequent purchaser being put on notice. Now many dealers report basic maintenance to CARFAX and so this will be able to provide a red flag if there is an odometer rollback.Consumer Fraud
In addition, sellers providing a false odometer disclosure statement would invoke liability under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. In Cuesta v. Classic, a purchaser acquired a Corvette wherein the odometer had been modified or altered. The purchaser subsequently learned of the odometer modification and attempted to have his money refunded from the dealership. In essence, the Court held that the purchaser was most likely entitled to the return of his money on the contract; however, the Court specifically stated that the affirmative misrepresentation of incorrect mileage constituted a violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Therefore, if a violation could not be proven with the intent requirement under the Federal Odometer Act, there would be liability under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. The differences in damages would be that the federal odometer law provides a minimum $1,500 in damages.
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act can help a person or a consumer if you have purchased a car that has had the odometer been rolled back. Under the New Jersey Law the Consumer Fraud Act considers this an affirmative representation as to a material fact regarding the underlying transaction.
The law almost imposes strict liability for a dealer or person who has sold a car with the odometer rolled back. The selling dealer is supposed to know if there has been a roll back or if there is an adverse condition of the car. Even if the CARFAX does not show a roll back this is not a defense. Even of the Autocheck does not show a roll back the dealer can still be responsible for selling that car where the odometer has been rolled back.
Sometimes the evidence is not really that clear on the roll back but it can be determined in various way including expert testimony and that testimony goes to the heart of the claim to determine if the car has a rolled back and the value of the car has been affected and that could constitute and ascertainable loss as a result of the seller conduct, when the car was sold.
So there is a claims but it is the job of the consumer to prove the roll back and also the loss as a result of ANY roll back.
Department Of Justice