As if the solar industry didn’t already face significant headwinds on its way toward world domination, a Facebook page called Solar Energy Today has promised solar energy tax credits or rebates to thousands of unsuspecting Facebook users—tax credits that do not exist, according to the Associated Press.
The scam apparently spent $2.4 million on thousands of ads over the course of a couple of months, running amok as it lured Facebook users to click through to its website for the purposes of gathering personal data such as mailing and email addresses, utility information, and phone number—presumably to sell this data to others for purposes unknown.
The ads promised homeowners huge tax breaks and other incentives if they only installed new solar energy panels—they could even make money, so the ads promised. The ads were even customized to promote tax breaks in specific states, complete with pictures of individual US governors.
Of course, no such tax break exists, and Facebook finally took down the fraudulent pages and suspended the associated ad accounts as well after several US governors—whose image was used in the scam—reported the activity.
The solar industry has been plagued with scammers, according to Peter Marinello, Vice President of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. cited by the Associated Press. And a quick Google search of “get paid to go solar” produces numerous results offering just that. Google is even smart enough to tailor search results to your own home state if your settings allow Google to see your location. Most of these websites offer nothing more than information (and only after you provide your personal information), and do not directly sell solar panels. There is nothing to purchase from most of the fraudulent sites—it is just a way of gathering your personal information. Related: How Long Will Stock Market Euphoria Last?
There are other solar panel scams out there as well, where companies will offer to put solar panels on your roof at their expense and then sell you the energy that it creates.
Regardless, the solar industry is a magnate for fraud, and buyers need to beware. If you are interested in solar panels, make sure to get multiple estimates and do your homework by checking the status of those companies with the Better Business Bureau, says the Associated Press.
Finally, people should understand that there are no free rides, and the solar industry—and any other industry for that matter—is not positioned to give their product away for free. Homeowners can get the down low on real solar energy credits by visiting energy.gov.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com