In late June President Obama signed into law the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or Cash for Clunkers program. CARS provides a rebate for consumers who trade in qualifying gas guzzlers for more energy efficient cars. Unfortunately, even before the program began, scammers were attempting to ply their trade and Better Business Bureau offers the following guidance for car shoppers on how to participate in the program and avoid getting scammed.
The CARS program has proved to be extremely popular; according to the New York Times, it generated more than $920 million in rebates and more than 220,000 in auto sales. Car shoppers burned through the $1 billion that was initially set aside for the program and the Federal government had to quickly appropriate an additional $2 billion to keep the program going.
“Not only were some consumers quick to take advantage of the new program, but scammers didn’t waste any time either,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. “Because the program is new, identity thieves know that they can cull sensitive personal information from consumers while looking like they are actually trying to offer assistance to participate in the program.”
Even before the legislation passed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that Web sites were soliciting information like names, addresses and Social Security numbers in order to register people for the program. The BBB serving Louisville received reports from consumers who received phone calls with offers for help in filling out the paperwork to receive a voucher to participate in the program.
BBB offers the following guidance to car buyers on the basics of the CARS program:
Additional restrictions apply and BBB recommends consulting the official Web site for the CARS program at www.cars.gov for more information. Consumers can also call the CARS Hotline at (866)-CAR-7891 or TTY at (800)-424-9153
For more advice on purchasing and maintaining an automobile, visit www.bbb.org