How To Avoid Solar Scams
When you agree to sign up for a commitment lasting 20-25 years, especially when it requires an installation on your home, skepticism will often creep in when making the decision. You want to ensure that the company you're signing such an agreement with is legitimate and trustworthy — scam artists are present in literally any industry.
1. Detecting fraud
The only way that an honest solar company would be able to legally get a hold of your contact information (through text, phone, or email) is if you submitted the "lead form" to a sales representative or through an online advertisement that prompted the request. If you receive an unexpected request (i.e. you’ve never once shown interest in solar and/or do not recognize the company’s name) DO NOT give out your personal information.
2. Research the company you’re considering:
Google (and any other search engines of your choice) are glorious resources! Just type in the company names with words like “scam”, “complaint” or “review”. The phone numbers the companies call you from can be searched in the same way, and you can always also look on Better Business Bureau to find out:
a) if the company is real
b) if there have been any serious complaints filed against them.
3. Make sure they follow through:
Be skeptical of a company that is quick to give you a quote up front and then not follow through on that price when it’s time to sign the contract. Most legit companies are able to give you an estimate within reasonable bounds, but some could potentially bait and switch you after you’ve signed up. Also keep in mind you can cancel at any time up to the installation.
All in all — be wary of the potentia for a bait and switch. If this happens to you, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
4. Don’t give any payment information over the phone:
For starters, the majority of solar companies don’t require any money out of your pocket for a lease or a loan. However if you were interested in purchasing a system, it would be done in person at your home or business with a sales representative. Also, any time a solar company will call to speak to you in the presale process should be to confirm your address, ownership of your home, and how long you’ve lived there to ensure the best electricity savings projection. Legitimate companies would have no reason to ask for payment prior to an in-home appointment.
5. Make sure you are speaking to someone:
First, unless it is a message from a the federal or state government, or your local utility, you shouldn’t buy into a robocall. If a solar company is calling you with a recorded sales pitch, there’s something fishy, so make sure you are not only speaking directly to someone, but that they are not urging you to make a decision in a rush. Con artists could seem impatient or even be borderline threatening if you are on the fence about quickly agreeing to something over the phone.
6. Red flag — if the company doesn’t ask the age of your roof:
Knowing the condition and the age of your roof is integral in the solar installation process. A good, knowledgeable solar company will need this information to qualify the homeowner because the won't install a system on a roof that will need work sooner than later. This would requirement additional costs to remove and then reinstall the panels once the roofing was done. Some companies will even help you coordinate reasonably roof work or replacement if its needed, rather than disqualify you without any assistance.