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The cash for clunkers bill passed - beware of scams!

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The “cash for clunkers” bill, officially known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), became a law on June 25, 2009. This is a government program that helps you purchase a new, more fuel efficient vehicle when you trade in a less fuel-efficient vehicle. The OFFICIAL website to get information on this program is www.CARS.gov.

In less than a week scammers and predators have opened up websites inducing consumers to provide their name, address, make, model and social security numbers in order to “register for the cash for clunkers bill”. DO NOT REGISTER YOURSELF OR YOUR CAR. It will be the responsibility of the dealership to handle all of the paperwork required.

Before you go to a dealership to purchase a vehicle under the CARS program, call them first and make sure they are able to participate. Only a selected number of dealerships will participate in the program. Every dealership that does participate will have to pass an approval process by the federal government ahead of time.The car may still be worth $4,500.

At this point, there are seven main criteria for your trade-in to qualify for the CARS program:
• Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date
• Only purchase or lease of new vehicles qualify
• Generally, trade-in vehicles must get 18 or less MPG (some very large pick-up trucks and cargo vans have different requirements). The website to find your vehicle mileage is http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm
• Trade-in vehicles must be registered and insured continuously for the full year preceding the trade-in
• You don't need a voucher, dealers will apply a credit at purchase
• Program runs through Nov 1, 2009 or when the funds are exhausted, whichever comes first.
• The vehicle that you are trading in is required to be destroyed. Therefore, the value you negotiate with the dealer for your trade in is not likely to exceed its scrap value. The law requires the dealer to disclose to you and estimate of the scrap value of your trade-in vehicle.

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