Scam preys on homeowners, tars solar’s reputation
The phone rings with a 561 area code. “Hello?” I answer. A voice on the other side says, “Hi, how are you doing today?” “Who is this?” I reply. They then ask if my FPL bill is higher than $50 dollars and I answer “no” (a perk of being a solar homeowner). **CLICK** They hang up.
They call again later in the day. The same conversation takes place but this time I don’t say “yes”. They say they are the “Florida Energy Center. We can save you money going solar”. I say there is no such thing. **CLICK** They hang up.
You can’t call them back. They call constantly. Each time, the phone number changes. This makes it pointless to try to block them. If you ask them to remove you from their list, they won’t. The last time they called, the gentleman on the phone yelled at us when we asked him to remove us from their list.
These scammers are using enthusiasm about solar to con homeowners. And this scam is doubly harmful because it drags down the name of a wonderful solar resource, the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). Homeowners have told us the scammers have said they are from the Florida Solar Energy Center from UCF. One homeowner was not only told this, he was directed to visit floridasmartenergy.com. This website and company are not affiliated in any way with FSEC.
FSEC has been phenomenal in its support for our solar co-op work. Led by Professor James Fenton, Ph.D., the research institute is a division of the University of Central Florida and is the largest and busiest state-supported energy efficiency and renewable energy research, training and certification institute. More than 150 employees and 95 professionals dedicate themselves to research and develop energy technologies that enhance our state and country’s economy and environment and educate the public, students, and practitioners on the results of their research.
FSEC has put out an advisory to alert the public about this scam. Please let us know if you have been become a target of these telemarketing calls. If so there are several steps you should take:
- Report these calls to the Florida Attorney General.
- File a complaint at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC): https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/stop-unwanted-calls-and-texts.
- Visit the Florida Office of the Attorney General website for Consumer Protection.
- Solar contractors must be licensed to do business in the state. You can check licenses at: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr.
- Learn how to protect yourself from robocalls: https://consumersunion.org/end-robocalls.