INDIANAPOLIS — As more Americans consider solar energy systems for their homes, scammers are finding new ways to cash in by tricking homeowners with “free installation” scams.
According to the Better Business Bureau, these scams can be convincing because the crooks use just enough real information to seem legitimate.
The BBB Scam Tracker has received several reports of homeowners being contacted by phone, social media, or in person by someone who claims to represent a solar company salesperson. The deal the person offers includes getting solar panels installed on your home at very low cost or free. However, it’s only available for a limited time, so you need to act now.
Doesn’t that sound familiar? Like every scam that has ever existed?
The tricky part is there are legitimate government rebates and green energy incentive programs out there that can sound similar to what the scammer is offering.
To avoid this scam, the BBB recommends these tips:
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 signing a service contract.
- 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; know that a legitimate company won’t pressure you to act. If someone uses 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.
If you are interested in solar energy for your home, you should check out the BBB’s guide to going solar.