Cash for Clunkers Program Attracts Imposters

August 15, 2009

The Government’s Cash for Clunkers program has created a frenzy of consumers darting to dealerships with hopes of purchasing a new fuel-efficient vehicle in exchange for their old clunker, but consumers should be aware that the program has also created an opportunity for imposters to commit identity theft.

“Scam artists are using websites and pop up ads to lure consumers into identity theft schemes” said Nancy Cahalen, BBB President/CEO. “These con-artists create a false impression that consumers must complete an online application providing personally identifiable information such as social security numbers in order to participate in the Cash for Clunkers Program.”

BBB advises consumers to beware of scammers using pop up ads that link to misleading websites containing false information. Consumers DO NOT have to pre-register to participate in the program, and should steer clear of any Website that asks consumers to provide information without making that fact clear or one that asks for personal information. Legitimate marketing for the Cash for Clunkers program will never require someone to provide a Social Security number or other financial information.

Car Allowance Rebate System, known affectionately as CARS or Cash for Clunkers, is a $1 billion government program that helps consumers buy or lease a more environmentally-friendly vehicle from a participating dealer when they trade in a less fuel-efficient car or truck. The program is designed to energize the economy; boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation's roadways. Consumers are able to take advantage of this program and receive a $3,500 or $4,500 discount from the car dealer when they trade in their old vehicle and purchase or lease a new one. The dealership is then required, by law, to destroy those trade-ins to keep them off the road.

Consumers should know that the new vehicle must be less than $45,000 and passenger vehicles must have a combined fuel economy of at least 22 miles per gallon. The program provides a credit of $3,500 or $4,500, depending on the difference between the combined fuel economy of the trade-in and the new vehicle. Trade-ins must not be older than 25 years old and have a combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less at the time it was originally purchased. Visit for details. CONSUMER NOTE: If your car is worth more than $4500 DO NOT USE THE will be better off simply trading in your vehicle or selling the car yourself. For more information regarding the Cash for Clunker’s guidelines for both consumers and dealerships, visit the Government website

Start your search With Trust for BBB Accredited auto dealers who can help you qualify for the Cash for Clunkers program by visiting