You always have to keep your guard up when surfing online. Scams are lurking everywhere to rip you off. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, there are some steps you need to take immediately. Tap or click here for three immediate steps to take if you fall for a scam.
But you don’t only have to worry about running into scams online these days. Scammers might knock on your door with an incredible offer that is too good to be true.
In fact, a devious scam involving solar panel installation has been discovered all over the U.S. Keep reading for ways to spot this scam and avoid falling victim.
Here’s the backstory
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning about how free solar panels could cost you big time.
Here’s what’s happening. A con artist contacts you by phone, email or even knocking on your door. They pretend to be a solar company salesperson. The “representative” claims to have a special offer. They can install solar panels on your home for a very low cost or even free.
They get your adrenaline flowing by letting you know that the deal is only for a very limited time, so you must act quickly. The scheme can take multiple turns at this point.
In one scenario, the scammer asks you to complete paperwork to get the ball rolling for your free solar panels. You’ll need to fill out forms and include banking information to see if you qualify for the offer.
If you fill out the forms, you’re handing over personal information that they can use later to steal your identity and banking information they can use to drain your account. Yikes!
While government programs are available to help cut the costs of solar panels, you shouldn’t take the word of a salesperson whom you don’t know. There is a resource you can check out for federal tax credits for solar. Just visit energy.gov for answers. There are most likely state tax credits, depending on your state.
How to spot and avoid a solar panel scam
These types of scams are getting more frequent, so the BBB has suggestions on how to spot and avoid them. Here are some safety ideas:
- Do your research – Genuine incentive programs and reputable solar energy contractors do exist. Before you accept an unsolicited offer, research solar companies in your area. Investigate each company’s reputation and business practices considering and signing a 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 and know that a legitimate company won’t pressure you to act. If someone is using aggressive sales tactics, 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 think you’ve been contacted by a scammer about solar panels, report it to help others avoid falling victim. Report solar installation scams to BBB Scam Tracker.