If you are considering getting solar panels, it’s crucial to exercise caution when evaluating installation offers. Dishonest individuals employ deceptive sales tactics and outright falsehoods to deceive homeowners and extract money from them.
So-called “free solar panel” offers should be approached with skepticism, as they may very well be scams. Be aware of the following information to protect yourself from free solar panel scams.
How the Scam Works
According to the Better Business Bureau, individuals will contact you via email, phone, social media, or even in person. They will pose as salespeople representing a solar company and offer you a special deal: the installation of solar panels on your home at an incredibly low cost or even for free.
The individuals will emphasize that this exclusive offer is only available for a limited time, pressuring you to make a decision quickly.
The scam can take various forms from this point forward. In some instances, scammers are after your personal information. They may ask you to fill out forms with your banking details under the guise of checking if you qualify. Alternatively, the “solar representative” may insist that you need to pay upfront costs which they promise will be reimbursed through a government program that does not actually exist.
There have been many reports of this type of scam. For example, one homeowner was approached by a door-to-door salesperson who claimed they could provide a new roof and solar equipment with a government rebate of 26% off the cost, effectively covering the expenses for the new roof. The homeowner conducted research and discovered that while a government rebate program did exist, the salesperson had misrepresented it to make a sale.
In another case, a homeowner had a phone conversation with a person claiming to be a “solar engineer” after being approached in person. The “engineer” asserted that they could make the installation cost-free, explaining that their installations in the neighborhood had been completed and they had met their quota but would try to accommodate the homeowner.
However, the conversation took a strange turn when the “solar engineer” began soliciting personal information. When the homeowner refused to provide it, the conversation became confrontational. The homeowner decided to end the discussion and subsequently received an unprofessional and offensive text message.
4-Step Guide to Protecting Yourself
To prevent falling victim to fraudulent solar panel schemes, it is important to take certain precautions.
1) Conduct extensive research: This is crucial to identify genuine incentive programs and reputable contractors. Investigate the reputation and business practices of each company before even considering entering into a service contract with them.
2) Resist manipulative sales tactics: Scammers aim to exploit your emotions, coercing you into making impulsive decisions. Be sure to take your time and remember that a legitimate company will never rush or pressure you into making a hasty choice. If you encounter overly aggressive sales tactics, it’s best to terminate communication immediately.
3) Obtain multiple bids: Engaging with multiple companies will assist in identifying signs of deception, as they are more likely to stand out in contrasts.
4) Pose numerous questions: Seek clarification on any aspects of a contract or proposal that may seem unclear. If a company becomes defensive or evasive in response to your inquiries, view it as a warning sign and proceed with caution.
Image Source: Mid Devon Housing, https://twitter.com/MidDevonHousing/status/1542520186359517184