Solar Fraudsters Target Elderly

Our firm gets a lot of calls from consumers who are senior citizens, or from their children, after they have realized that the “free” solar panel deal they were promised is nothing of the sort.

Maybe the consumer got the first bill from the solar company and wondered “what’s this?” Or, perhaps the consumer tried to sell the home and learned the solar company has a lien on it from a solar installation.  Maybe they’ve only just learned of a 25-year contract with ever-increasing prices because it was sent to a bad email address or one the distraught solar customer never had or used.

Common Deceptive Statements in Solar Sales

Every week, we hear similar complaints from consumers who met with a solar sales representative and felt taken. Statements such as the following may be deceptive or outright false:
– “The salesman said it was a government program to help seniors save money…”
– “The salesman said the panels would be free and wouldn’t cost me anything…”
– “I was told I’d have no more electric bills…”

But that does not stop aggressive door-to-door solar salesmen from using them in their pitch to older consumers.

Were you promised a Federal Solar Tax Credit?

Salespeople are likely to tout a 30% federal solar tax credit (for 2023). Consumers must be careful, this is not cash or a refund, but rather a tax credit to count against the taxes you pay.  Some seniors pay only minimal taxes or no taxes at all (if, for instance, their sole income is Social Security) and may not benefit at all from this promised “government program.”  Other times, the company keeps the tax credit for itself.

Were you told there would be No Upfront Costs?

Salesmen also like to tout a “no cost installation” or “no upfront cost” because this makes it sound like the consumer is getting the solar panels for free.  That is not the case.  With programs like solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs), it is the solar company, not the consumer, who owns the panels that are installed on the roof.

Do I pay for the energy produced by the panels?

While the solar company may not charge upfront for the panels and the installation, the consumer is bound to pay for the energy that’s produced by the panels at ever-increasing rates – sometimes for 25-years or more – forcing some elderly consumers to pay expensive rates until they’re over 100 years old.  All the while, they are still obligated to pay their electric bill.

Why must I sign an i-Pad?

Solar sales can be expensive and burdensome to consumers.  Solar salesmen know this, and that’s why they use electronically displayed and signed contract documents (instead of a paper contract that you hold and keep) with deceptive language to hide the agreement from elderly consumers by using a bum email address or making up an email address that only the sellers control.

Seek Qualified Legal Help

If you’re considering solar, make sure to read all the fine print and demand paper contract documents on the spot before you sign anything.  If a solar company cheated you, CALL US.  We may be able to help.  There is no charge for the consult and if you have a case to bring, the solar company, not the consumer, will pay any legal fees.

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that evaluates solar panel sales matters involving fraud related to forged contracts, identity theft, and credit reporting privacy violations.
Pictured: Attorneys Cary Flitter (center), Andy Milz (left), Jody López-Jacobs (right).