Beware the Cash For Clunkers scammers

jalopyAs Aaron Crowe explained in his recent post, the new federal Cash For Clunkers program could be a sweet deal for some of you still driving old, inefficient iron.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NITSA), which runs the program, warns that scammers are already setting up Web sites to rip off people eager to see if their jalopies qualify.

Here's the deal, people -- go to for the real info on this program, the official name of which is the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS- get it?) You do not need to register beforehand for the program!

The true rip-off sites will try to convince you that you do need to register, and attempt to gather as much info about you as possible.

Here's a video news report from

If you've been reading WalletPop for a while, you know the drill: NEVER give out Social Security numbers, bank info, credit card info, or anything else on a Web site without confirming first that it is legit. Don't let these scammers steal your identity or drain your accounts.

There are also sites up already that offer to help you determine if your car is eligible, but really exist to generate a list of sales leads that will end up in the hands of local car dealers. Even if these sites don't steal your identity, there is still a strong likelihood that you will be inundated with phone calls and mail. Stay away from these sites as well.

In fact, my advice is to ignore any site except for program details, and, as Aaron recommends, to check on your current ride's miles per gallon rating. And keep reading, of course.

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