A new home-improvement scam targets consumers who want to lower
their energy bills with rooftop solar panels or windmills. Solar
energy can reduce a home or building owner's electric bill, but the
upfront investment is the equivalent of paying for 30 to 40 years
of electricity in advance. Additionally, factors such as living
where cloudy weather is common or living in the shadow of tall
trees, terrain or nearby tall buildings can affect payback.
Consumers unfamiliar with these factors are targets for scam
Some scams persuade consumers to pay a large deposit to a
contractor who then leaves town or never delivers the system or
savings; consumers have lost several thousand dollars to this scam.
According to the latest survey of consumer-protection agencies by
the Consumer Federation of America and North American Consumer
Protection Investigators, home-improvement companies are the third
most complained about type of business.
Consumers can protect themselves by working only with licensed
contractors specializing in solar rooftop installation; conducting
an energy audit and obtaining bids from at least three companies;
and checking Better Business Bureau ratings and references.
Consumers should never pay the full price upfront or pay a deposit
of more than $1,000 or 10 percent of the project price,...
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