The BMV ... Sponsored by Chase

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Renewing your car registration isn't usually a titillating experience. But last month, lawyer Phil Althouse was surprised to find a $75 check in the mail with his renewal notice. Apparently, Chase bank was offering him the extra cash if he opened a checking account with the company. We're all accustomed to ads arriving with bills, but the BMV shilling for banks? Spokesman Fred Stratmann explains that last year the agency handed registration renewal mailings over to Imagitas, a Boston marketing firm. Imagitas — which apparently struggled to be the 879th marketing firm to get the word "image" in its name and still try to sound original -- decided to sell ad space to pay for the mailings. It's all in the name of the public good, Stratmann explains. The BMV includes a disclaimer, assuring citizens that their government is not endorsing Chase's checking accounts. Plus, selling your mailing info is supposedly good for you. It's generated $4.2 million — some of which can be used to repair roads and bridges, while the rest will be stolen. "We're using it to benefit our constituency," Stratmann says, though we're not sure if he's talking about you or large campaign contributors. — Lisa Rab

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