Auto Fraud in The State of Illinois
When purchasing a used vehicle in the State of Illinois, consumers have a right to know certain information. When this information is not disclosed to the best of the dealer’s knowledge, it may be considered fraud. Fraud can occur in a number of ways within a used vehicle transaction. Misrepresentation of information related to mileage, vehicle history and damage to the vehicle all constitute fraud. Allowing a customer to obtain a vehicle before obtaining financing and then refusing to return a customer’s down payment or trade-in after failing to obtain financing may also constitute fraud.
Below are some types of fraud which may occur during the sale of a used vehicle in the State of Illinois:
MISREPRESENTATION OF MILEAGE
– A vehicle’s odometer gauge may be tampered with to give a false reading. This misrepresentation of a car’s true mileage affects the owner’s perception of the quality of the car. Tampering with an odometer before the sale of a vehicle is fraud in Illinois. Before purchasing a used vehicle, make sure to look for evidence of the true mileage of the car like stickers from an oil change. Also check to see if the gauge has been compromised by making sure the numbers are properly aligned. Odometer fraud may occur if:
- An odometer has been disconnected;
- An odometer has been dialed backwards; or
- The mileage of the vehicle was misrepresented in some other way.
Make sure to get written documentation of the mileage that was disclosed to you at the time of purchase. You have the right to obtain a written statement with the mileage of the vehicle disclosed at time of purchase.
WRECKED VEHICLES, VEHICLES WITH DAMAGE & SALVAGED VEHICLES
– Dealerships that sell vehicles which have been salvaged or otherwise sustained significant damages without disclosing that information are committing fraud. When a dealer does not disclose this information they may be putting the consumer in harm’s way. While the vehicle in question may look relatively new, there could be a number of things wrong with it that the buyer would not know unless the seller told them. There could be internal issues, parts could have been welded inadequately and a variety of other things could be wrong. The seller of the vehicle is bound by law to disclose this information before the sale of the vehicle. When purchasing a used vehicle, make sure to inspect it for the following to avoid a problem:
- Paint that matches evenly on the inside and outside of the door frame;
- Even spacing between parts of the car like the hood, trunk and doors and that they are aligned with the rest of the vehicle’s body;
- Flood damage in the form of water marks, mud or moisture; and
- Out-of-state titles—the car may have been moved to another state because of damage..
VEHICLE HISTORY MISREPRESENTED
A dealer must disclose the history of a used vehicle to the buyer to the best of its knowledge. Vehicles may have been involved in accidents, hold salvage titles or been in a natural disaster such as a flood. If any of these are the case, the prospective buyer has the right to know. Nobody wants to buy a car and find out any of these things later.
PROTECT AGAINST AUTO FRAUD
Before purchasing a used vehicle in Illinois, make sure to go through this checklist to prevent being a victim of consumer fraud:
- Receive written documentation of the mileage disclosed to you at the time of purchase;
- Check the vehicle thoroughly to make sure that the overall condition of the vehicle matches the mileage stated;
- Avoid low mileage vehicles advertised as part of a fleet; and
- Look for parts of the vehicle that have been repainted. This may be an attempt to mask low-quality replacement parts. Find out which parts have been replaced and when.