Consumers Should Know the Procedures for Utilizing the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) aka “Cash For Clunkers” Program
BBB has become aware that the Car Allowance Rebate System is already attracting “unauthorized identity appropriation.” Web sites are popping up, falsely claiming that consumers need to register for the program. Some impostor sites ask for consumers’ personal information including names, addresses and Social Security numbers. In some cases, the sites falsely promise that consumers will be put in touch with authorized dealers in their area.
“Local auto dealers are advertising and setting up their own Web sites to promote their participation in the program. Make sure you know who the company is before you request more information or ask to be referred to a dealer,” states Warren King, BBB President. “Legitimate marketing of the “Cash for Clunkers” program will never require someone to provide a Social Security number or financial information. It would only be required at the dealership during the purchase of a new vehicle.”
There is no official “participating dealer” program for CARS; all legal car dealers are eligible to register. Consumers do not have to pre-register for CARS. Any website that asks dealers or consumers to provide information for this program without making that fact clear is misleading. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for developing the rules for program implementation and setting up a means for registering dealers to participate in the program. Rebate offer is set to officially run from July 24, 2009 – November 1, 2009.
Cars.gov is the only official CARS Program website.
Here’s how the program is designed to function legally:
* Consumers should visit www.cars.gov or call (866) CAR-7891 for information and to determine if they qualify before shopping for a new car. Consumers can research fuel economy at the U.S. Energy Dept.’s site www.fueleconomy.gov.
* Take the title, registration and insurance papers showing continuous registration and insurance coverage for the past full year to the dealership.
* The dealer must handle the submission of all required information to NHTSA.
* NHTSA ensures that the purchase meets all the program requirements and about 10 days later, issues a financial credit to the dealer.
Confusion on the part of consumers and dealers is expected and confusion about the program requirements and procedures is exactly what unauthorized websites will capitalize on.
To check out an automobile dealership contact the Better Business Bureau at 412-456-2700 or log on to www.bbb.org.
For more information on the Cash for Clunkers fraud, please contact Warren King at 412-456-2735, extension 129.