September 2011: SCAMwatch is warning Australians to continue to be wary of scammers who offer bogus government rebates for the installation of solar panels.
How the scam works:
You receive an unexpected call, email or house visit from someone offering either free solar panels or a government rebate/grant on solar panels following an upfront payment.
Scammers may pose as government representatives or mention government affiliation or programs.
The scammer may ask for bank account details or for a fee to be paid before the rebate/grant can be processed. In some instances, these promised rebates have not been paid.
The scammer may pressure you into making a hurried decision claiming that the false grants or rebate schemes are due to close soon.
In some instances the scammer may offer free solar panels in exchange for placing advertising signs on your property for a number of months. They will request an upfront fee and claim to repay it over the duration of the advertising.
The scammer may claim to be from a legitimate company which sells solar panels and may even organise to visit your home but will not show up.
Australian Government departments will never phone or email you asking you to pay upfront amounts in order to claim a rebate.
Never confirm or provide personal details over the phone or by email unless you initiated the contact and trust the other party.
Be cautious if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from government or a genuine solar energy provider. Verify who they are by finding the agency or company’s contact details from an independent source such as a phone book and contacting them directly.
If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.
SCAMwatch has issued a previous radar on energy scams:
The Australian Government offers genuine rebates for the installation of solar panels and individual states and territories may also offer ongoing feed-in tariff programs. For further information on all available rebates visit the Living Greener website maintained by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.