Milwaukee, Wis. – If you want solar panels, be very careful when evaluating installation offers. Con artists use misleading sales tactics and outright lies to trick homeowners out of money and personal information. If you’ve received an offer for “free solar panels,” it’s likely a scam. Here’s what you should know.
How this scam works
Someone contacts you through email, phone, social media, or even in person, as in many cases reported to BBB Scam Tracker. They are pretending to be a solar company salesperson. The “representative” has a special offer: they can install solar panels on your home for a very low cost – or even free. The amazing deal is only available for a limited time, so you must act now!
From here, the scam can take several turns. In some versions, the scammer is after your personal information. They ask you to fill out forms with your banking details “to see if you qualify.” Other times, the “solar representative” claims you need to pay upfront costs, which they promise will be reimbursed by a (non-existent) government program.
BBB Scam Tracker has seen numerous reports of this kind of scam. One homeowner was approached by a door-to-door salesperson “claiming he could get me a new roof plus solar equipment, with a government rebate for 26% off cost, essentially paying for the new roof.” After doing their research, the homeowner found that while a government rebate program existed, the salesperson was misrepresenting it to make a sale.
See the full article on BBB.org for more examples
How to avoid solar panel scams:
- Do your research. Genuine incentive programs and reputable solar energy contractors do exist. Before you accept an unsolicited offer, do some research on solar companies in your area. Investigate each company’s reputation and business practices before you consider signing a contract for services.
- Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics. Con artists want to provoke an emotional reaction that would cause you to give in to their requests without thinking it through. Take your time and know that a legitimate company won’t pressure you to act. If someone is using aggressive sales tactics on you, it’s best to cut off communication immediately.
- Get competing bids. Contact several solar installers if you plan on going solar and get bids from each company. If someone is pulling a con, they will be much easier to spot this way.
Ask plenty of questions and consider the answers. Ask questions about any aspect of a contract or proposal you don’t understand. If the company gets upset about your questions, refuses to answer them, or is vague with their answers, consider it a red flag.
For more information
For an online version click here For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2021, people turned to BBB more than 200 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 25,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.