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 www.cars.gov or 866-227-7891.
According to CARS.gov, 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 CARS.gov, 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 CARS.gov 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 www.bbb.org.
Report related schemes at www.cars.gov and internet or e-mail based scams at www.ic3.gov.
About your BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington:
Your Better Business Bureau is a not-for-profit organization funded by Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses. The BBB’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. For more information about the services and products provided by your BBB, call 206-431-2222 or 253-830-2924 in Washington, 503-212-3022 in Oregon, 907-562-0704 in Alaska, or visit our Web site at www.bbb.org