There’s a knock at the door, a man standing on your porch with an iPad and a 1000-watt smile.
Normally, you wouldn’t talk with a door-to-door salesman. But this one – selling solar panels – is friendly enough and confident enough to keep you engaged. He tells you it’s “free,” or that you will save or even “make money” by going solar. He mentions your neighbors. He asks you to sign his iPad.
And although it’s not apparent at the time, your conversation with the solar salesman has made you the target of a solar panel scam.
Maybe the salesman uses an electronic "signature" to bind you to a contract that you didn't want or need. Maybe he pulled your credit report without your permission. Maybe, without you even knowing about it, he's even added a relative's name, or neighbor's name, on the contract.
All around the country, unsuspecting consumers have become victims of solar power-related rip-offs from companies like Vivint Solar.
Avoiding Solar Scams
In many cases, these homeowners are led to believe the salesman works for their electric company. The salesman might tell the consumer he needs to inspect the roof or review energy bills.
He might make the case that solar energy will lower the homeowner's energy bills to the point that the solar panels will actually make them money. Tactics like these could be part of a solar power scam.
The salesman might ask for your signature or initials on an iPad or other tablet. If so, beware: they could use the signature to access your credit report or bind you to a fraudulent, long- term solar contract without your consent.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, your permission is required for a company to access your credit report.
Solar Scams are on the Rise
In March of 2018, the New Mexico attorney general accused residential solar provider Vivint Solar of defrauding residents of that state through deceptive business practices.
According to the state’s lawsuit, Vivint ties homeowners into 20-year contracts requiring them to buy electricity produced by solar panels installed on their homes at rates that jump more than 72 percent during those 20 years.
Prosecutors said Vivint’s sales model lets their employees inflate the cost savings consumers could realize, telling them that they’d cut their energy bills in half by choosing Vivint over New Mexico’s chief electric (#) utility.
But it isn’t just consumers in New Mexico who have had issues with Vivint. Less than two weeks after news of the New Mexico lawsuit broke, the non-partisan watchdog group Campaign for Accountability (CfA) called on the attorneys general in California and Texas to investigate the company.
Flitter Milz has heard complaints from consumers all across the country.
Are You the Victim of a Solar Scam?
If you’ve been visited by a salesman from Vivint Solar or another solar company, we’d recommend you get a copy of your recent credit report. Look at the “inquiry” section to find out who has accessed your credit information.
If you learn that a company such as Vivint or Solar Mosaic has pulled your credit report without your consent and that there is an inquiry on your report, one of our consumer protection attorneys can help you determine whether your rights have been violated.
If a solar company forged documents or concealed a contract from you, give us a call at 888-668-1225 or Contact Us here.
Whether in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, or around the country – Flitter Milz can help you stand up to deceitful companies and make sure your rights are protected.