Tag Archives: Scams

Beware of Solar Panel Door-to-Door Salespersons

gus-ruballo-128864.jpgMany homeowners across California are being unlawfully tricked into financing solar panels for their homes by door-to-door salespersons and phone solicitors who misrepresent the terms of the sale.  Recently, HERA assisted the Madrizes of Madera, California, who were misled into financing the installation of solar panel system on their roof by a salesman who knocked on their door.  The Madrizes are monolingual Spanish-speakers and the salesperson told them in Spanish that his company could install solar panels on their roof that would save them hundreds of dollars on their energy bills.  The salesman told them they would pay $118 per month for 15 years and that they would receive a 30% tax reimbursement.  He also said the company would be responsible for the upkeep of the panels and would fix them if needed.

After this explanation, he had Mr. Madriz sign a contract written entirely in English, which the Madrizes could not read or understand. He never told Mr. and Mrs. Madriz that they would be financing the cost of the solar panels with a loan.  The contract only briefly mentioned financing and had dramatically different terms than were explained by the salesman, including $118 per month payments for 19-years accruing 5.99% interest per year.  However, they did not understand those terms because they were written in English.

The solar panels were later installed, but never connected to the electric grid, and therefore never functioned.  Despite this fact, the financing company continued to bill the Madrizes for the loan.  They were shocked to receive their first bill with a $17,160 balance.  Desperate for help, they contacted HERA.  HERA helped them file a complaint to the Contractor State Licensing Board about the contractor’s failure to provide a functioning solar panel system.  HERA also sent the financing company a letter rescinding the loan based on the salespersons’s fraudulent misrepresentation and the failure to provide the Madrizes with a copy of the contract in the language in which it was negotiated, as required by Civil Code section 1632.

HERA has assisted other clients rescind solar panel contracts that were obtained based in misrepresentations about the terms and without providing a copy of the contract in Spanish after Spanish-language negotiations about the terms.

HERA continues to represent several other clients who have been misled into financing their solar panels and other home improvements based on terms that differ from what was promised and/or not provided a copy of the contracts in the language in which it was negotiated.  If you are facing such a problem, you should contact us for assistance.

Visit us online www.heraca.org or call us at 510-271-8443

 

*Image shown is a sample image of a home with solar panels.

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(HERA in the News) Family of Purple Heart veteran loses San Mateo home to foreclosure, says people took advantage of them [abc 7 news June 12, 2017]

The family of a Vietnam Purple Heart veteran is scrambling to leave their San Mateo home of 40 years before a deadline of 6 a.m. Tuesday. They’ve lost their home to foreclosure despite desperate attempts to save it, paying out tens of thousands of dollars.

The family accuses those who promised to help them save their home of taking advantage of them instead. It’s too late to stop the foreclosure, but they hope their story will help others.

The heartbreaking task of packing up belongings accumulated over 40 years is well underway for Delores Sexton and her husband Robert.

“It’s so hard to leave,” said Delores. “We’ve been here so long.”

Adding to the stress, Robert is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia.

Delores has known Robert since she was 9 years old and they’ve been married 46 years.

The couple began falling behind on their mortgage payments several years ago. He says Wells Fargo declined a loan modification,

But in 2015, Endeavor sent him a letter stating he, “may be eligible for a loan modification” and offered to help him apply.

Robert says he paid out close to $20,000 for attorney fees, program fees and for a forensic loan audit to endeavor and other companies it recommended.

Robert says it was a huge mistake, “I’m embarrassed, but I feel worse for my family because I let them down.”

We contacted Endeavor, which told us it was no longer in business.

We also contacted the Foreclosure Defense Company which said it received the case from Endeavor.

Foreclosure Defense told us it prepared a lawsuit against the lender to advocate for the family’s behalf, but never filed it because the family failed to complete a necessary affidavit.

Robert told us he gave the company everything it wanted.

Foreclosure Defense also said it prepared a loan modification package, but the state Department of Consumer Affairs said it is not licensed to do that.

Foreclosure Defense sent us a report it asked a self-described “certified forensic loan auditor” to complete.

Attorney Maeve Elise Brown of the nonprofit Housing and Economic Rights Advocates has seen these types of reports before.

“When they hear the words forensic loan audits,” she said. “They think somebody is going to finally get to the bottom of this horrible experience.”

Brown says she’s never seen a forensic audit that helped anyone.

A recent report from the California public interest group found 11,000 federal complaints about mortgages from veterans.

“We saw financial institutions or evidence that would suggest financial institutions actually try and seek out service members,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CalPIRG.

As for the Sextons, a longtime neighbor has offered to take them in until they get back on their feet.

“We’ve always been a happy family. Hopefully we can catch our breath,” said Delores.

Robert added, “I’m packing yeah, but I’m not going to give up.”

Their immediate concern is finding a place to rent. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help them get back on their feet.

Read the original article here.