No Program Too Good to Scam

The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning to watch out for scammers offering to help you with the “Cash for Clunkers” program, which actually isn’t the “Cash for Clunkers” program. Your first clue is that the program is actually called the Car Allowance Rebate System, which in governmentese has been shortened to “CARS.”

The program is a combination of efforts to get less fuel-efficient cars off the road in exchange for thriftier gas users and another to boost the auto industry. You get $3,500 or $4,500 toward the new car and your car hits the scrap heap.

Should you decide you’re interested, you should know that dealers have to apply to participate, that you will never see the cash in your pocket and that you should not just hand out your personal financial information to someone offering to help you with the program. It’s the dealer that applies and gets the rebate from the government.

You can read the entire BBB release after the jump.

Avoid Scams and Learn the Facts Concerning the Car Allowance Rebate System

DuPont, WA — July 10, 2009 — Consumers are curious about the new government program that allows some old gas guzzlers to be traded in for a credit on a new fuel-efficient vehicle. Beware some information circulating is from con artists.

The real program is called the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS). However, fraudsters are using catchy names and trying to lure consumers into identity theft schemes. Scams ask for personal information, like Social Security numbers to get a “voucher” or a name added to an application list—these don’t exist.

Get accurate information about CARS and find out if your vehicle qualifies from the U.S. Department of Transportation at or 866-227-7891.

According to, the dealership applies for the program and must be registered to participate. The dealer is the one who gets reimbursed, not the consumer. If the gas guzzler meets the requirements, a credit amount of $3,500 or $4,500 is taken out of the purchase price of the new vehicle by the dealership. The credit amount generally depends on the type of vehicle purchased and the difference in fuel economy between the clunker and new vehicle.

Your Better Business Bureau suggests the following tips concerning CARS:
1) Avoid anyone who offers a money order, check or direct deposit for the rebate. Consumers can only benefit from CARS by getting the reimbursement amount reduced from the purchase price of the new vehicle.
2) Discover the current value of the clunker. If it exceeds $4,500, selling the clunker or a normal trade-in may be a more cost-effective route.
3) Know the scrap value of the clunker. When the dealership takes possession of the gas guzzler, it may be able to sell specified parts, but the majority of the vehicle must be destroyed. So consumers can negotiate the new vehicle price with the clunker but it will only be worth the scrap value to the dealership. Dealerships are required to give consumers a scrap value estimate.
4) According to, the program only works for purchasing or leasing new vehicles from a dealership; not used vehicles.
5) Transactions after July 1 are potentially eligible for credits, however suggests interested dealers and consumers wait until late July when the program will be fully implemented. The program runs until November 1 or when funds are exhausted.
6) Protect your personal information and understand contracts before signing. When purchasing a vehicle from a dealership get buying tips and a free BBB Reliability Report on the business at .

Report related schemes at and internet or e-mail based scams at .

One thought on “No Program Too Good to Scam

  1. The other day a truck drove through the neighborhood asking to walk through the property to check on the trees. It is the first time I’ve seen a solicitor in the ten years we’ve lived here.
    Were they ‘casing’ the properties?

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