LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS
paul@newjerseylemon.com
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New Jersey Odometer Fraud FAQs

INTRODUCTION
Read below to learn more about this topic. Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send him an email. Warning – this article does not necessarily include every New Jersey court rule, code or law that may apply to your New Jersey case! The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not changed, repealed or superseded by other laws. Before taking any action, read all applicable federal and state source law and case law and consult with an attorney. Court addresses, hours of operation, deadlines and directions may change so check with the court in advance of mailing documents to court or going there! Some of the webpages on this site don’t apply to all types of New Jersey cases, since there are different rules for different case types!

NEW JERSEY ODOMETER FRAUD

WHAT IS NEW JERSEY ODOMETER FRAUD?
You buy a New Jersey used car at a New Jersey used car dealership only to find out that the odometer was rolled back! If this describes your situation, you may be the victim of New Jersey odometer fraud and therefore be entitled to damages and attorney’s fees! New Jersey odometer fraud (which is often a type of New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act violation) generally involves someone tampering with or altering the mileage that is stated on a vehicle’s odometer – the gauge that measures how many miles that the vehicle travels whenever it is moving. New Jersey odometer fraud is usually committed to deceive a New Jersey vehicle buyer of a vehicle into believing that a vehicle has traveled fewer miles than is actually the case. To prohibit New Jersey odometer fraud and to protect motor vehicle purchasers, under the Federal Odometer Law, the following conduct if committed intentionally may be fraud:
 Advertising, selling, using, installing or having installed in a motor vehicle a device that causes its odometer to register the wrong mileage.
 Disconnecting, resetting, altering or having disconnected, reset or altered a motor vehicle’s odometer in order to change the actual mileage stated on the odometer.
 Operating a motor vehicle if the operator knows that its odometer is disconnected or not operating if the action is taken with the intent to defraud.
 Removing or altering a notice attached to a motor vehicle as required by the Motor Vehicle Cost Information Act, if the action is taken with the intent to defraud.
 Engaging in a conspiracy to violate the odometer repair and odometer disclosure sections of the Motor Vehicle Cost Information Act.

WHAT IS THE MOTOR VEHICLE COST INFORMATION ACT, ALSO KNOWN AS THE FEDERAL ODOMETER LAW
The Motor Vehicle Cost Information Act, also known as the Federal Odometer Law, is a law passed by the Federal Government that protects people from New Jersey odometer fraud. The Federal Odometer Law imposes civil liability on those who tamper with car odometers or fail to accurately disclose the mileage of vehicles. In passing the Federal Odometer Law, the United States Congress recognized the heavy reliance of a car buyer "on the odometer reading as an index of the condition and value of a vehicle;" "as an accurate indication of the mileage of a vehicle;" and "in deciding on the safety and reliability of the vehicle." To accomplish its objectives, the Federal Odometer Law requires "a person transferring ownership of a motor vehicle [to] give the tranferee a written disclosure: (A) of the cumulative mileage registered by the odometer; or (B) that the mileage is unknown if the transferor knows that the mileage registered by the odometer is incorrect." The policy of the Federal Odometer Law is both to prohibit tampering with car odometers and to establish certain safeguards for the protection of car purchasers. The goal of deterring those tempted to turn back car odometers, which is encompassed within the purpose of prohibiting tampering, is effected in several ways: Having a minimum civil liability of $1,500.00 payable to a victim; tripling the actual damages if that results in more than $1,500.00; allowing of civil penalties payable to the United States of up to $1,000.00 for each violation of the Federal Odometer Law on suit by the United States Attorney General; providing for criminal penalties; authorizing inspections, investigations and administrative proceedings by the Secretary of Transportation for the enforcement of the statute; and injunctive relief.

WHAT ACTIONS ARE ILLEGAL UNDER THE FEDERAL ODOMETER LAW?
Under the Federal Odometer Law, a person may not -
• (1) advertise for sale, sell, use, install, or have installed, a device that makes an odometer of a motor vehicle register a mileage different from the mileage the vehicle was driven, as registered by the odometer within the designed tolerance of the manufacturer of the odometer;
• (2) disconnect, reset, alter, or have disconnected, reset, or altered, an odometer of a motor vehicle intending to change the mileage registered by the odometer;
• (3) with intent to defraud, operate a motor vehicle on a street, road, or highway if the person knows that the odometer of the vehicle is disconnected or not operating; or
• (4) conspire to violate the requirements listed above or conspire to fail to follow the disclosure requirements on the transfer of motor vehicles.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS A REPAIR TO A NEW JERESY CAR’S MILEAGE?
A person may service, repair, or replace an odometer of a motor vehicle if the mileage registered by the odometer remains the same as before the service, repair, or replacement. If the mileage cannot remain the same (1) the person shall adjust the odometer to read zero; and (2) the owner of the vehicle or agent of the owner shall attach a written notice to the left door frame of the vehicle specifying the mileage before the service, repair, or replacement and the date of the service, repair, or replacement. A person may not, with intent to defraud, remove or alter a notice attached to a motor vehicle as required by service, repair or replacement of an odometer under the Federal Odometer Law.

WHAT ODOMETER DISCLOSURES MUST A NEW JERSEY CAR SELLER MAKE WHEN THEY SELL, LEASE OR OTHERWISE TRANSFER OWNERSHIP OF A NEW JERSEY CAR?
A person transferring ownership of a motor vehicle shall give the transferee a written disclosure: (A) of the cumulative mileage registered by the odometer; or (B) that the mileage is unknown if the transferor knows that the mileage registered by the odometer is incorrect. A person making a written disclosure required by a federal odometer regulation may not make a false statement in the disclosure. A person acquiring a motor vehicle for resale may accept a disclosure under this section only if it is complete. (4) The regulations prescribed by the United States Secretary of Transportation shall provide the way in which information is disclosed and retained under the Federal Odometer Law disclosure requirements. A motor vehicle the ownership of which is transferred may not be licensed for use in New Jersey or in another State unless the transferee, in submitting an application to New Jersey or another State for the title on which the license will be issued, includes with the application the transferor's title and, if that title contains the space referred to under these disclosure requirements, a statement, signed and dated by the transferor, of the mileage disclosure required under subsection (a) of this section. This paragraph does not apply to a transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle that has not been licensed before the transfer. Under regulations prescribed by the United States Secretary of Transportation, if the title to a motor vehicle issued to a transferor by a State is in the possession of a lienholder when the transferor transfers ownership of the vehicle, the transferor may use a written power of attorney (if allowed by New Jersey or other State law) in making the mileage disclosure required under these disclosure requirements. Regulations prescribed under this paragraph -
o (i) shall prescribe the form of the power of attorney;
o (ii) shall provide that the form be printed by means of a secure printing process (or other secure process);
o (iii) shall provide that the State issue the form to the transferee;
o (iv) shall provide that the person exercising the power of attorney retain a copy and submit the original to the State with a copy of the title showing the restatement of the mileage;
o (v) may require that the State retain the power of attorney and the copy of the title for an appropriate period or that the State adopt alternative measures consistent with section 32701(b) of this title, after considering the costs to the State;
o (vi) shall ensure that the mileage at the time of transfer be disclosed on the power of attorney document;
o (vii) shall ensure that the mileage be restated exactly by the person exercising the power of attorney in the space referred to in paragraph (3)(A)(iii) of this subsection;
o (viii) may not require that a motor vehicle be titled in the State in which the power of attorney was issued;
o (ix) shall consider the need to facilitate normal commercial transactions in the sale or exchange of motor vehicles; and
o (x) shall provide other conditions the United States Secretary of Transportation considers appropriate. (B) Section 32709(a) and (b) applies to a person granting or granted a power of attorney under this paragraph. (3)(A) A motor vehicle the ownership of which is transferred may be licensed for use in a State only if the title issued by the State to the transferee -

 (i) is produced by means of a secure printing process (or other secure process);
 (ii) indicates the mileage disclosure required to be made under subsection (a) of this section; and
 (iii) contains a space for the transferee to disclose the mileage at the time of a future transfer and to sign and date the disclosure. (B) Subparagraph (A) of this paragraph does not require a State to verify, or preclude a State from verifying, the mileage information contained in the title.
• (c) Leased Motor Vehicles. - (1) For a leased motor vehicle, the regulations prescribed under subsection (a) of this section shall require written disclosure about mileage to be made by the lessee to the lessor when the lessor transfers ownership of that vehicle. (2) Under those regulations, the lessor shall provide written notice to the lessee of -
o (A) the lessee's mileage disclosure requirements under paragraph (1) of this subsection; and
o (B) the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements. (3) The lessor shall retain the disclosures made by a lessee under paragraph (1) of this subsection for at least 4 years following the date the lessor transfers the leased motor vehicle. (4) If the lessor transfers ownership of a leased motor vehicle without obtaining possession of the vehicle, the lessor, in making the disclosure required by subsection (a) of this section, may indicate on the title the mileage disclosed by the lessee under paragraph (1) of this subsection unless the lessor has reason to believe that the disclosure by the lessee does not reflect the actual mileage of the vehicle.
• (d) State Alternate Vehicle Mileage Disclosure Requirements. - The requirements of subsections (b) and (c)(1) of this section on the disclosure of motor vehicle mileage when motor vehicles are transferred or leased apply in a State unless the State has in effect alternate motor vehicle mileage disclosure requirements approved by the United States Secretary of Transportation. The United States Secretary of Transportation shall approve alternate motor vehicle mileage disclosure requirements submitted by a State unless the United States Secretary of Transportation decides that the requirements are not consistent with the purpose of the disclosure required by subsection (b) or (c), as the case may be.
• (e) Auction Sales. - If a motor vehicle is sold at an auction, the auction company conducting the auction shall maintain the following records for at least 4 years after the date of the sale:
o (1) the name of the most recent owner of the motor vehicle (except the auction company) and the name of the buyer of the motor vehicle.
o (2) the vehicle identification number required under chapter 301 or 331 of this title.
o (3) the odometer reading on the date the auction company took possession of the motor vehicle.
• (f) Application and Revision of State Law. - (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, subsections (b)-(e) of this section apply to the transfer of a motor vehicle after April 28, 1989. (2) If a State requests, the United States Secretary of Transportation shall assist the State in revising its laws to comply with subsection (b) of this section. If a State requires time beyond April 28, 1989, to revise its laws to achieve compliance, the United States Secretary of Transportation, on request of the State, may grant additional time that the United States Secretary of Transportation considers reasonable by publishing a notice in the Federal Register. The notice shall include the reasons for granting the additional time. In granting additional time, the United States Secretary of Transportation shall ensure that the State is making reasonable efforts to achieve compliance.

MANDATORY DISCLOSURES FOR NEW JERSEY CARS UNDER THE FEDERAL ODOMETER LAW?
 Anyone who repairs or replaces an odometer and it no longer registers the same mileage as before its repair or replacement, the person must adjust the odometer to the “0” mark and then place a disclosure sticker on the vehicle’s left door frame.
 Anyone transferring ownership of a motor vehicle must give the new person taking ownership written disclosure: (1) of the vehicle’s mileage and attest to the accuracy of the mileage figure; or (2) that the mileage is unknown; or (3) the mileage stated on the vehicle’s odometer is incorrect. Unless the vehicle’s certificate of title is in possession of a lienholder, this disclosure must be made on the vehicle’s certificate of title. If a lienholder has the certificate of title in its possession, the person transferring title to the motor vehicle may use a written power of attorney (if allowed by State law) to make the appropriate disclosure. In addition, the new person taking ownership of the vehicle must be given a copy of the disclosure statement.
 Anyone leasing a motor vehicle must provide an odometer disclosure statement to the lessor when the lessor transfers ownership of the vehicle.
 Motor vehicle dealers and lessors must keep odometer disclosure statements for a period of 5 years.
 Motor vehicle auction companies must keep records of buyers, sellers, odometer readings and vehicle identification numbers for vehicles that are sold through the auction companies for a period of 4 years.

WHEN ARE NEW JERSEY CARS EXEMPT FROM THE FEDERAL ODOMETER LAW?
 Vehicles with a gross weight of over 16,000 pounds or that or 10 years or older are exempt from the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Cost Information Act.
 Certain requirements of the Motor Vehicle Cost Information Act (those of subsections (b) and (c)(1)) do not apply if the State where the transfer of the vehicle occurs has in effect alternate motor vehicle mileage disclosure requirements approved by the Secretary of Transportation.

WHAT ARE THE DAMAGES NEW JERSEY ODOMETER FRAUD VICTIMS MIGHT RECOVER?
If a person is the victim of another’s intentional violation of the Motor Vehicle Cost Information Act, the wronged person may bring a case against the wrongdoer in the Superior Court of New Jersey. If the victim wins the lawsuit, the victim can recover money damages in the amount of 3 times their actual damages or $1,500.00 plus reasonable attorney's fees and court costs, including the fees for filing the lawsuit. There are strict time limits within which the victim must file the lawsuit. New Jersey odometer fraud may also be a violation of other consumer protection statutes, such as the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. In proper cases, such as where a person proves that as a direct result of the commission of New Jersey odometer fraud, they lost property or a sum of money capable of being calculated with reasonable certainty, the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act permits the consumer to recover money damages in the amount of 3 times their actual loss plus reasonable attorney’s fees and certain costs.

DOES THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HAVE EXPERIENCE REPRESENTING CONSUMERS IN NEW JERSEY LAWSUITS?
Yes. In addition to representing consumers in a variety of New Jersey consumer lawsuits and defending businesses in a variety of New Jersey consumer lawsuits, Paul DePetris provides consulting services to law firms handing New Jersey consumer lawsuits and defending New Jersey consumer lawsuits. Paul DePetris has represented the following persons and businesses in New Jersey consumer lawsuits:

• New Jersey Automotive Dealers
• New Jersey Automotive Parts Dealers
• New Jersey Automobile Purchasers
• New Jersey Banks
• New Jersey Car Dealers
• New Jersey Car Purchasers
• New Jersey Consumers
• New Jersey Dealers
• New Jersey Corporations
• New Jersey Home Buyers
• New Jersey Used Car Dealers
• New Jersey Used Car Customers
• New Jersey Home Inspectors
• New Jersey Home Inspector Customers
• New Jersey Used Car Dealers
• New Jersey Used Car Services Customers
• New Jersey Home Sellers
• New Jersey Marinas
• New Jersey Real Estate Agents
• New Jersey Real Estate Brokers
• New Jersey Real Estate Salespeople
• New Jersey Junk Yard Dealers
• New Jersey Used Car Dealers
• New Jersey Warranty Purchasers
• New Jersey Watercraft Purchasers

Paul DePetris has performed the following tasks:
• represented consumers, home buyers, home sellers, Used Car customers, Used Car dealers, home inspectors, real estate brokers, real estate agents, junk yard dealers, automobile purchasers and owners, new and used car dealers, banks and automotive lenders, boat purchasers and owners, watercraft purchasers and owners and marinas in New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act lawsuits and other New Jersey consumer lawsuits and New Jersey consumer disputes.
• appeared in court in cases involving New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act lawsuits and New Jersey consumer lawsuits.
• mediated, arbitrated and tried New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act lawsuits and New Jersey consumer lawsuits.

Mr. DePetris is also the author of the following publications:
• New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act & Forms (New Jersey Law Journal Books)
• Learned Professionals, Licensed Semiprofessionals and the Consumer Fraud Act: The Origins of the Licensed Professionals’ Doctrine (New Jersey Lawyer, Oct. 2008)
• Liability For Consumer Fraud In Real Estate Transactions (New Jersey Law Journal, March 18, 2009). Mr. DePetris also gives seminars on the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR NEW JERSEY CASE?
Handling your New Jersey case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!! Do it right the first time by seeking legal advice from a competent New Jersey lawyer!
Let the Law Office of Paul DePetris help you with your New Jersey case. Not all New Jersey cases require you to pay expensive legal fees to get legal help. 
 

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