How to avoid used car fraud
  • Post last modified:January 11, 2024

5 Tips For Safeguarding Against Used Car Fraud

Learn how to avoid used car fraud when buying a luxury car in the US. This article provides tips on how to spot red flags and protect yourself from scammers.

Buying a car can be an exhilarating experience, but be cautious of potential fraud in the car sales industry. It is crucial to take precautions to protect yourself from various scams. This article will explore strategies to safeguard yourself against fraud in used car sales, including utilizing a complimentary accident history check using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), verifying the vehicle history report, and employing a helpful checklist for inspecting used cars.

What is used car fraud?

Used car fraud is a type of deception or misrepresentation that takes place during the sale or purchase of a used car. It can take many forms, from simple issues such as discrepancies in the car’s history to more complex schemes such as the forgery of documents. Also, car dealer slang can be confusing and intimidating, but it’s important to know before you step foot into a showroom. An informed buyer is a car dealer’s worst nightmare, so don’t be afraid to do your research and ask questions. Check out this car dealer slang dictionary to help you.

Here are some examples of used car fraud:

  • Selling a car with a hidden accident history
  • Selling a car that is still financed
  • Selling a car with a salvage title
  • Selling a counterfeit luxury car
  • Rolling back the odometer of a car
  • Forging the vehicle history report of a car

Free VIN check: How to spot a car with a hidden accident history

Each vehicle possesses an identification code called the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). It contains information about the car’s past. One of the steps to shield yourself from fraud is to conduct a free accident history check using the VIN. Numerous online tools and services are available that provide this information allowing you to determine if the car has been involved in any accidents. Considering that an accident history can impact both safety and value this step is crucial during your car-buying journey.

Thoroughly examine vehicle history report for used car fraud

Apart, from checking for accidents it is essential to dig into the vehicle history. To ensure a purchase it is advisable to request a vehicle history report. This report provides information, about owners, title changes, maintenance records, and any warning signs to look out for. Although there may be a fee to obtain this report from services like CarFax, and AutoCheck there are less expensive alternatives like VINCheckUp (sponsored) the peace of mind it offers is worth the investment. Don’t forget to cross-check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the report with the car’s VIN stamped into the body or etched into the chassis to ensure they match. Any inconsistencies could indicate fraudulent activity.

Used car inspection checklist: What to look for

Before finalizing your purchase consider having a qualified mechanic inspect the car or grab my guide to buying a used car which includes a used car inspection checklist that covers all areas such as the engine, transmission, brakes, tires, and overall condition of the vehicle. By leaving no stone with this checklist you can identify any issues and use them as leverage for negotiating a fair price.

How to spot an odometer that has been tampered with in the United States

Odometer manipulation is a form of fraud where the mileage displayed on a car’s odometer is intentionally decreased. The aim is to make the vehicle appear valuable and fetch a selling price.

Here are a few indicators to help you identify an odometer that has been rolled back:

  1. Inconsistent signs of wear and tear; If the car has mileage but exhibits wear and tear such as worn-out tires or brakes this may suggest odometer tampering.
  2. Discrepancies, in mileage records; Compare the mileage displayed on the odometer with the information provided in the vehicle’s history report. A significant difference could be an indication of rollback.
  3. Physical evidence of tampering; Examine the condition of the odometer, for any signs of tampering like scratches or numbers that are misaligned.

If you suspect that a car’s odometer has been rolled back it is advisable to have it thoroughly inspected by a mechanic. They can assess if there are any indications of tampering and verify the mileage of the vehicle.

Here are some additional tips to help you avoid purchasing a car with an odometer reading:

  1. Purchase, from a dealer; Reputed dealers thoroughly inspect their cars before selling and can provide a comprehensive vehicle history report.
  2. Conduct a purchase inspection; Before making any purchase, it’s advisable to have the car examined by a qualified mechanic who can identify any signs of tampering and verify the true mileage.
  3. Exercise caution with priced cars; If a vehicle appears to be an incredible deal it might be too good to be true. Be cautious when encountering cars that are priced below the market value.

In case you suspect that your odometer has been tampered with it is recommended to report the incident to your state attorney general’s office. You may also consider pursuing action, against the seller if necessary.

Here are 5 tips for avoiding used car fraud when buying a luxury car:

  • Buy from a reputable dealer or private seller
  • Get a vehicle history report
  • Have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic
  • Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true
  • Don’t sign any paperwork until you understand it


In conclusion, protecting yourself against fraud in car sales requires diligence and thorough research. Conducting a VIN check, for accidents verifying the vehicle history reports accuracy, and utilizing a used car inspection checklist are vital steps that significantly reduce risks associated with buying a used car. Remember that dedicating time and effort to these measures can save you from headaches and financial losses.

Purchasing a used vehicle is comparable to acquiring a second-hand house. It’s essential to conduct research and carefully inspect the property before making any offers. Otherwise, you could potentially encounter headaches and financial troubles in the future. So take your time and do your own due diligence. Exercise caution when placing trust. With some effort invested, you’ll be able to discover a used car that will serve you well for years to come.

The issue of fraudulent activities related to the sale of used cars is a concern. However, there are measures you can implement to safeguard yourself. By adhering to the advice provided in this blog post your chances of purchasing an owned vehicle without falling victim to scams will significantly increase.

If you suspect that you’ve been targeted by used car fraud it is crucial to report it to your local law enforcement agency and both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state’s attorney general’s office.

It should be noted that the author of this blog post assumes no responsibility, for any damages that may occur as a result of utilizing the information presented herein.