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Scams that promise free solar panels can cost consumers a lot of money

Homeowners should do research before investing in solar panels

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Photo (c) Diyana Dimitrova - Getty Images
Consumer authorities and law enforcement agencies across the country are warning consumers of a new scam that promises homeowners free solar panels. While installing solar panels typically comes with the benefit of boosting tax credits, any company that promises free – or very low cost – solar panels is likely part of a larger scam

Reports of this scam have come through in several ways. Some homeowners have reported a door-to-door salesman ringing their doorbell, while others have received calls, emails, or texts, all with the promise of installing solar panels for free or at a very low cost. After the initial point of contact, the salesperson will stress the urgency of getting the solar panels installed as quickly as possible so you don’t miss out on the deal. 

Some scammers have asked their targets to pay them before the project starts, noting that all of the funds lent out will be reimbursed by the end of the installation by a government organization – one that doesn’t exist.

Other scammers will ask homeowners to send over all of their personal information – bank accounts, Social Security numbers, etc – to get a preapproval before the project starts. They can then use that information for other scams, which puts consumers in hot water. 

In either scenario, this is dangerous for homeowners. For those who pay the scammers upfront, it can be difficult – or impossible – to get that money back. While those who provide the scammers with all of their personal information could be on the hook for future scams or identity theft. 

Research is key

The biggest takeaway from reports of this solar panel scam is that homeowners need to do a great deal of research when even considering installing solar panels. Look into companies in your local area, read the reviews, and make decisions based on that research – not prompts from salespeople or potentially dangerous phone calls or emails. 

It’s also important that homeowners get multiple quotes when thinking about solar panels for their homes. The first company you call may not always be the best.

To avoid getting scammed, to learn more about what solar panels cost in your particular area, and to ensure that you’re getting the best deal possible, call a few different companies for prices. 

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team has done a lot of the work for you, identifying some of the best solar companies, based on consumer reviews.

Experts also urge consumers not to be intimidated by scare tactics typically employed by salespeople. Oftentimes with scams, the scammer will try to bully their victims into doing something immediately by promoting scarcity or the imminent end of a deal.

When it comes to big decisions for your home, rushing into them can backfire – especially where scammers are concerned. 

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