Dealers fight used car fraud

November 04, 2016

Car dealers in the UK have added their voice to calls for action to tackle odometer fraud, which they say is undermining trust in the used car market.

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) has written to the government asking for odometer adjustment to be criminalised, saying it is now a ‘huge problem’ for the automotive industry that requires urgent action.

Odometer fraud, or clocking, is the practice of altering a vehicle’s odometer to show a lower reading than a vehicle has actually travelled.

This has two potential benefits. Firstly, the resale value of a vehicle can be increased. Secondly, if an owner has a leased vehicle on a limited mileage contract, they can avoid penalties by turning back the reading before returning the car.

Currently, it is not illegal to adjust the odometer on a vehicle, or to sell the devices that make it possible, but it is a criminal offence to sell a vehicle to someone without notifying them that the odometer has been changed.

Sue Robinson, director of the NFDA, said: ‘Urgent action needs to be taken. Fraud is rapidly growing in incidence due to technology, financial gain and the lack of criminal penalties.’

The government is currently looking at the automotive industry’s views after a public consultation on the issue closed this week.

Robinson added: ‘The NFDA urges the government to swiftly enact legislation to criminalise mileage adjustment and put an end to this activity.’

The NFDA is also working with the vehicle finance industry to raise consumer awareness of mileage limits on leased cars.

It wants customers to be told more clearly what mileage limits mean and what the penalties are for exceeding them. It is also asking manufacturers and leasing companies to change advertising so leasing deals are not shown with unrealistically low mileages.

Louise Wallis, head of business development at the NFDA, said: ‘This is a new consumer problem. Some people are reducing the mileage on vehicles to avoid penalties.’

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