MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WFRV) – The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) is alerting the public of a new scam they’re calling the “free solar panels” scam.

In a release, the BBB says to be very careful when evaluating solar panel offers as con artists have been using misleading sales tactics and lies to trick homeowners of their money and personal information.

Officials say this scam starts with a potential victim being contacted in person or through email, phone, and social media by someone pretending to be a solar company salesperson.

The “representative” then claims to have a special offer along the lines of installing solar panels on the victim’s home for a low cost or even free. They then say the deal is only available for a limited time and a decision needs to be made right away.

The BBB says the scam can take many turns from that point where in some instances the scammer is after personal information so the victim is asked to fill out a “qualifying form.” In other instances, the scammers are after money and tell the victim to pay an upfront cost and promise it will be reimbursed later.

To avoid solar panel scams, officials say people should:

  • Do research
    • Before accepting an unsolicited offer, do some research on solar companies in the area and look at each company’s reputation and business practices before signing a contract for services.
  • Don’t give in
    • Con artists tend to provoke emotional responses causing potential victims to give in to scammer requests without thinking. When making an agreement, be sure to take time and know that legitimate business won’t pressure a buyer into a deal.
  • Get competing bids
    • Contact and talk to several installers to get bids from each company. Any bid that seems “too good to be true” is an easy way to spot a con.
  • Ask questions
    • Be sure to ask lots of questions about aspects of a proposal that aren’t understood or don’t make sense. If a company gets upset over questions being asked or is vague with answers, that is a red flag.

The BBB adds that when looking for any kind of installation work, always look for businesses that can be trusted like Accredited Businesses that use the BBB seal.

For more information about the “free solar panels” scam, or any other scam, visit the Wisconsin BBB website