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Like all too many government programs, CARS (a.k.a. Cash for Clunkers) has attracted scam artists looking to turn a cheap buck. Do not give personal information to websites claiming to help you utilize the program.
As detailed in our sister blog, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) recently launched. Commonly referred to as "Cash for Clunkers," it is a $1 billion program designed to help people get out of old inefficient cars and into new greener wheels. It's billed as a win-win-win, for consumers who get a discount on a new car, car dealers who sell some new cars, and for the environment (through fewer emissions and less oil consumption).
Some are trying to add a fourth "win" to that list: folks who throw up a quick website and scam people out of personal and even bank account information. Obviously, this not only hurts the individuals who might find their identities stolen, but also the Cash for Clunkers program.
These sites typically offer to "register" a person for Cash for Clunkers, or to get them a "voucher."
Keep in mind, however, that there is no registration involved in the program.
Another tip, the government refers to this program as CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System), not Cash for Clunkers. Big banner ads boasting help with CASH FOR CLUNKERS should tip you off that a website should be treated with suspicion.
According to Consumer Affairs, Karen Aldana, a spokeswoman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that, "Consumers should be wary of anything on the web that isn't cars.gov."
The program also involves no vouchers. The way it works is that participating dealers apply the discount when a buyer turns in an eligible vehicle. The dealer is then reimbursed by the government for the amount of the discount.
Participating dealers can be found using the dealer locator on cars.gov, or by calling your local dealer.