Free car media -- easy cash or scam?

auto wrapYou've seen free car media -- regular passenger cars, not company cars, plastered with advertising.

Owners of these cars receive a monthly check to compensate them for allowing advertisers to apply auto wraps to their rides.

Unfortunately, while there are legitimate opportunities for a very limited number of people to make some quick cash via this route, there are a lot of scammers prowling the internet attempting to prey on those hoping to participate.

Therefore, remember one of WalletPop'sgolden rule$ -- if a company demands that you to pay them for the right to access a money-making opportunity, run, don't walk, away.

However, the fact that you can see cars so garbed from time to time demonstrates that such programs really do exist.


According to Matzav.com, a couple of firms that operate legit campaigns are Free Car Media and DrivenMedia.

Free Car Media told Matzav that it has 800 to 1,000 cars on the road, paying the drivers $700 or more per month to allow their cars to be turned into billboards. DrivenMedia pays a more modest $300 to $500, which still may seem like "Money for Nothing."

However, you'll be expected to act as a spokesperson for anyone who corners you with questions about the product, so if you are in and out of your car a lot, this could eat up some of your time. You'll also be required to drive a minimum number of miles each month.

As you can imagine, the gigs are very limited in number and geography. If you live in a sparsely populated part of the country, forget it. Ditto if you drive a reject from the Cash For Clunkers program, or have accumulated more points than the Los Angeles Lakers.

Those with the best chance live in areas with attractive demographics, i.e. income, age and willingness to spend. DrivenMedia, for example, loves soccer moms and those who drive near them. The ideal candidate will also be one of those who others look to emulate; pack leaders.

The Better Business Bureau has no unresolved complaints about Free Car Media. DrivenMedia is not listed in its database.

My take on this? View it like a lottery ticket: the chances are one in a million, but somebody has to win. But be very, very careful who you deal with.

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