TTAC just got a call from the Department of Transportation (DOT). The agency in charge of implementing the Cash for Clunkers program gave us a heads-up that the Car Allowance Rebate System is already attracting “unauthorized identity appropriation.” To wit: cashforclunkersheadquarters.com and cashforguzzlers.net, which sucker surfers into “pre-registering” for the program. “There are a number of people out there who are implying that dealers and/or consumers need to register with them to be eligible for the CARS program,” DOT spokesman Rae Tyson reveals, leaving aside questions about what these sites may do with the information. “This is completely untrue.”
Tyson said that cars.gov is the only official DOT CARS website. He also said his agency is working with car manufacturers and dealer associations to contact all state-registered dealers and promote the program to consumers.
“If you’re a consumer, there is no need to pre-register with anyone. If you’re a dealer, we will contact you as and when the program is initiated.”
Tyson refused to be drawn on whether or not the DOT will seek a criminal investigation into these practices. “We’re not looking at this from a criminal point-of-view,” Tyson said. “That would be a matter for the Justice Department.”
Here we go.
UPDATE: Brian Pasch, owner of cashforguzzlers.net, has contacted TTAC through the comments section (below) and via telephone. As a result of that conversation, Mr. Pasch has taken aggressive action to clarify his company’s relationship to the CARS program.
As stated in the text, there is no official “participating dealer” program for CARS; all legal car dealers are eligible. 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 both, as per the DOT.