Kentucky Auto Fraud
A consumer can be defrauded when purchasing a used vehicle in Kentucky if the dealership in some way misrepresents information about the vehicle that could influence the purchasing decision of the buyer. Sadly, this happens all-too-often. Fraud may occur in a number of ways. For example, if a dealer misrepresents the mileage of a vehicle in order to sway a buyer to purchase the vehicle, they are committing odometer fraud. Similarly, if they have knowledge of but fail to disclose information about the damage to the vehicle or other aspects of the history of a vehicle that may be important to the buyer, they are committing fraud. If a dealer or dealership lets the customer take delivery of the vehicle in question before obtaining proper financing, then promises to obtain that financing but does not, and subsequently refuses to return the trade-in or the down payment the consumer gave, they are committing fraud.
The list of auto fraud types is extensive. Below are some of the most common:
– A vehicle’s odometer is the gauge that shows how many miles the vehicle has been driven. Fraudulent dealers can tamper with this odometer to misrepresent the mileage of the car. Understating the mileage of a vehicle leads a consumer to believe that the car is in better shape than it might actually be. Odometer fraud can happen as follows:
- The odometer has been dialed back;
- The odometer has been disconnected; or
- The mileage of the vehicle has been in some way misrepresented.
As a consumer, there are steps you can take to avoid this type of fraud. They are listed below
- Inspect the vehicle for stickers from the last time the car was serviced. Often, these stickers will show the true mileage of the vehicle. Compare this sticker to the mileage stated on the odometer to see if they match.
- Check the odometer to see if the numbers are aligned. If they are not aligned, the odometer may have been compromised by someone tampering with it.
- Get written documentation stating the mileage presented to you at the time of purchase. The Truth in Mileage Act requires that a dealer give you a written statement of the mileage of the vehicle. Do not purchase a used vehicle without this document.
VEHICLES WITH DAMAGE THAT HAS NOT BEEN DISCLOSED
– A vehicle’s prior damage, needs to be disclosed to the buyer. If the dealership has knowledge of previous damage or accidents and does not tell the buyer, they are committing fraud. When this happens, a dealer is putting the safety of the consumer at risk and is usually overstating the price that the vehicle is worth. There are some things you can look for that could indicate that the vehicle has been damaged in some way prior to your purchase.
- Look for an out of state title: Out of state titles may indicate that the car has been moved from out of state because the vehicle was damaged.
- Look for flood damage: The vehicle may have been damaged in a flood so check for water marks, mud and moisture anywhere in the vehicle.
- Look for aligned parts: The car may have gotten parts replaced. Look for good workmanship and that the parts such as the doors, hood, and trunk are aligned and do not have uneven spacing.
Every significant event in a vehicle’s history should be disclosed to the potential buyer, to the best of the knowledge of the seller. Information such as a salvage title or an accident that the vehicle has been in previously are all things that may influence a buyer’s decision to purchase. You are also entitled as a consumer to know whether the vehicle was used for rental purposes. Sometimes a dealer will represent a car as having been “executive driven” when in fact the car was used as a rental car. Rental cars may have more wear and tear and be more prone to problems than other cars, so this may inform your purchasing decision.
CONSUMER FRAUD PREVENTION
Consumers have the ability to prevent fraud to a certain extent. When you go in to purchase a used vehicle keep your eye out for the following:
- Be cautious of odometer fraud by following the tips above.
- Check for replacement auto parts and ask about them
- Inspect the vehicle and see if the overall condition of the vehicle matches the mileage reported on the odometer
- Beware of vehicles that are advertised as a part of a fleet despite low mileage
Call Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® if you feel that you’ve encountered auto fraud in Kentucky. Our skilled attorneys have experience in lemon law and consumer law. We provide Representation for Kentucky Lemon Law with NO Attorney’s fees. Contact us for a free case review.