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  • Melissa Deaver

How to Avoid Door-to-Door Solar Scams

Many of us have witnessed door-to-door salesman in our neighborhoods. Sometimes these individuals have a real product and a real deal to share with you and other times, it turns out to be a scam. Solar sales are notorious for this, so as a consumer, how can you be sure who to trust?

The extent of door-to-door scams are almost impossible to measure accurately as many victims may not realize they have been scammed or may be too embarrassed to report it. In 2015, there was an investigation by the New York State Public Service Commission that led to over 1,500 consumers receiving refunds from a large energy supplier due to predatory sales practices.

One common tactic is for a well-dressed person with a badge to show up at your door and claim to be with your utility company. Sometimes he will request to see your energy bill and claim there is an issue with it. What he's looking for is actually your account number, which is all it takes to switch your supplier without your consent. This is called "slamming," and it can go unnoticed unless you are carefully reviewing your bills. It's important to be wary when opening your door to anyone, but if you are actually in the market for solar, read on for some tips on how to protect yourself.

You do not have to let anyone into your home, even if they are claiming to be a representative of a company with which you are affiliated. If you feel something is off, it's best to just cut the conversation and follow up with a phone call to the company they are claiming to represent. If you do feel comfortable with the salesperson, here are some tips to protect yourself during your meeting:

  1. Verify the person's credentials. Just because they may have a piece of clothing or paper with the utility's logo on it does not mean they are legitimate. Ask to see identification and proof of employment.

  2. Protect your personal information. Obviously things like your bank account and social security number are very important to protect. Other information is also important to protect, like your utility account number or even what you're paying for energy, as this information could be manipulated and used to trick you.

  3. Be familiar with your energy information. If you are in the market for solar, it's important you understand what you are paying now for electricity and gas. Understand your rates so you can follow what the salesperson is trying to pitch.

  4. Pay attention to the contract. If you get to the point of looking at a contract with the salesperson, we urge you not to sign it before carefully reviewing it. As with any legal document, read the fine print to ensure you aren't unintentionally signing something that will be negative for you down the road. Be sure to review the rate, duration and potential fees, ensuring they line up with what you were told by the salesperson.

  5. Look up the company online. A door-to-door solar salesman may be a part of a legitimate solar copmany, but that doesn't mean they have your best interest in mind. Be sure to take some time to research the company--how do their reviews look online, are they certified in any way, do they have a website? A simple internet search can give you a quick glimpse into the company and whether or not doing further research is even worth it.

  6. Report a potential scam. If you think you have been a victim of a door-to-door scam, call your utility company and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. This helps stop these companies from preying on other victims.

At MidIowa Power, we will never pressure you into signing a contract without proper review. We want you to feel comfortable and sure about your solar investment, so we are happy to take the time to answer any questions you may have along the way. We understand solar is a big commitment and we look forward to helping you understand the ins and outs of the process.

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