“Abuse.” “Dishonest.” “Fraud.” “Racketeering. These are the type of words you’d expect to see used to describe an organized crime family, not a company claiming to provide clean, renewable energy.
Nevertheless, this was the language New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas used last year in filing a civil complaint against Vivint Solar, accusing the company of deceptive business practices.
We’d like to tell you this is an isolated incident. But sadly, there are a growing number of scams coming out of the world of solar. Forged signatures, unlawful access to credit reports may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to solar scams.
How solar scams play out
You’re at home one day when a salesman knocks on your door. But he claims that what he’s selling – solar panels – won’t actually cost you any money.
Solar panels, he says, will pay for themselves. In fact, you might even make money. All you have to do is sign his tablet. And while it may not seem like it, you’ve become the target of a solar panel scam.
It might be that he’s signed you up for a contract you don’t need or want or added a neighbor or relative’s name to the contract.
And with your forged signature, solar companies will sometimes pull your credit report without your consent, a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The rise of solar energy scams
In the New Mexico case, the state accused Vivint of using deceptive business practices by tying them into 20-year contracts that force them to buy the electricity produced by the panels at exorbitant rates.
The attorney general says the company’s sale model allows its workers to overstate how much consumers could save by going solar. Some people were told they could see their energy bills cut in half by going with Vivint.
And it’s not just Vivint. According to USA Today, the Better Business Bureau processed dozens of complaints in New Jersey alone over the past few years. They came from customers who say they were misled by solar companies about things like their ability to cancel contracts and the amount of money they could save.
You’re the victim of a forged signature. Solar companies should have to answer for their fraud.
Before you sign up for a solar contract, it’s a good idea to ask the following:
- What if I want to sell my house?
- How can I get out of my contract?
- What will it cost to get out of my contract?
- Will my monthly rate per kilowatt hour or monthly leasing charge for the solar panels automatically go up each year?
You should also consult with an attorney, especially if you think you’ve already become a victim of a solar panel scam.
If you discover that a solar company has pulled your credit report without your permission, the law firm of Flitter Milz can help.
We’ve heard complaints about unscrupulous solar companies from consumers around the country. Our lawyers can work with you to determine if your rights have been violated.
Whether a solar company forged your signature or wasn’t upfront about its contract, we can make sure your rights are protected. Contact us today to learn more.