The Iowa Department of Justice is warning Iowans scammers are trying to use the new "cash for clunkers" program to get your personal financial information. Bill Brauch, head of the consumer protection division in the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, says the only way to participate in the new federal program is through a car dealer who sells new cars.

"Consumers simply go to a car dealership and use their ‘cash for clunkers’ rights to trade in their vehicle and get credit for it when they purchase or lease a new vehicle," Brauch says. According to Braunch, spammers are sending email suggesting you need to register to be eligible.

"That’s not true," he says. "Those (email) are fraudulent. You do not need to register." Braunch says the scammers are just trying to get you to email personal data like your Social Security or your banking account numbers. Once you get to the new car dealership, the "Cash for Clunkers" program has several restrictions. To prevent people from getting a clunker from the junkyard, you have to prove the "clunker" car you’re trading in has been insured and registered for the past 12 months.

"It can’t be more than 25 model years old and there has to be measurable improvement in the mileage that you get with the new vehicle that you purchase as compared with the one you’re trading in and then that vehicle is going to be scrapped," Brauch says. "So it’s not a situation where you can trade it in and then think, ‘Well, I’ll buy it back from the dealer.’"

The new federal program is designed to get gas-guzzling vehicles off the road and some dealerships are draining fluids out of the old clunkers and filling them back up with sand to ensure the engines are out of commission.