14 Tips on Avoiding Solar Installation Scams

This article first appeared here

As the loadshedding situation in South Africa worsens, many desperate citizens are turning to solar power at their homes or businesses to keep the lights on and – hopefully – save on energy costs in the long run. Unfortunately, with increased demand in solar installations, unsavoury characters are taking advantage of consumers’ growing desperation.

Here are some simple tips to avoid getting scammed out of your hard-earned money:

  • Verify that a company is legit. Don’t just rely on a link sent to you by an alleged service provider.
  • Online service review sites can save you thousands – read what other customers have to say about a specific company before you decide to enter into any agreement.  
  • Compare the website links provided by a supposed installer with the web address of the company they claim to work for. Scammers will often amend a web address only slightly.

Example: A legitimate URL will be while the fake website will be listed as

  • Scam sites will often use other websites’ or companies’ images as “proof” of work completed. Do a quick reverse image search online to check whether an image was used elsewhere before. Here’s how to perform a reverse image search.
  • Ensure the company you’re dealing with is accredited. The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) has put together an extensive list of accredited solar installation companies. You can request these companies to supply a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) and a PV GreenCard at any time. Should an installer be unable or unwilling to provide these documents, rather find someone else.
  • Request a detailed checklist before installation begins. This checklist will detail all the general timeline, and steps needed to complete your solar energy installation, as well as the type of equipment being installed (such as inverters, batteries, and modules).
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Shop around and speak to people who already have solar installations to determine whether a company is trustworthy or not.
  • A legitimate solar installer will very rarely reach out to you. Any unsolicited offer to install solar panels must be met with great caution.
  • If someone claims to represent a legitimate company but insists you work directly through that person, rather contact the company first to confirm that the person is indeed employed by them.
  • Facebook Marketplace and other online sales platforms are usually not the best places to find a reliable solar installer. It’s also much harder to recoup any money should a deal go wrong.
  • If a company or individual tries to pressure you into signing a contract, rather walk away – even more so if they don’t want you to read through the sales agreement in your own time.
  • Never sign a contract or agreement you don’t fully understand.
  • Unfortunately, the upfront costs required for a solar installation are high. It’s therefore crucial that you verify a company’s banking details before you make any payment.

Of course, one way to protect from any scams is by using an escrow service such as Paysho whenever you want to hire a contractor to do any work for you. Paysho gives you peace of mind with every purchase you make by ensuring that your money is protected from any scam. Whether you are buying online or offline, you can be sure with Paysho.


Don’t Buy A Fake Watch

This article comes to us courtesy of TimeTraders

There’s a world of counterfeit watches out there attempting to trick you into thinking they’re the real deal. Around 15-30% of internet searches for watches involve people looking for replicas. The Swiss watch industry claims it costs them billions of dollars every year and although major efforts are made to catch and confiscate the fakes it’s a growing problem.

Working closely with customs officials in major markets, the luxury watch industry continues to play a big part in the seizure of fakes although many still make it through to market – it’s just too difficult to catch them all.

The replica watch industry is a natural tangent of a market for items that are beyond the realm of affordability for most people. The demand for fake watches exists simply to satisfy the desires of people who cannot afford “the real deal” but want to portray the same status symbols as those who can. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t buy one:

Long arm of the law 

Buying a counterfeit product is not a harmless act – you’re supporting organised crime and run the risk of criminal, civil, and customs sanctions. In fact, in many countries, the simple possession of counterfeit goods is considered an offence. In addition, damages can be claimed by the legitimate holders of intellectual property rights. Customs are also authorised to seize and destroy illegal products and hand out large fines.

Built to not last

While some counterfeiters are hawking their fake watches for a couple of bucks, others produce surprisingly convincing replicas at a few hundred dollars a pop. Granted, spending $600 isn’t the same as spending $6,000 on a watch, but it’s still a significant chunk of change. Factor in the likelihood that the fake will break down fairly quickly and it’s easy to see how you’re simply wasting your hard-earned cash.

Identity theft

Back in the day, fake watches were typically purchased in person with cash. However, more and more counterfeiters have been moving online in recent years. In order to elude law officials, they will frequently change their URLs and quickly open and shutter their websites. In turn, their faulty and insecure websites are incredibly vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves. Shopping on these shady sites can put you at risk of having your personal and credit card details stolen.

Fake equals fake

Traditionally there are three types of buyers who want a luxury watch on their wrist. One is the collector who values the artistry and mechanics that make up a fine timepiece. This individual understands and respects their value and appreciates the craftsmanship. The second type of person buys a luxury watch purely for the statement it makes about their lifestyle. The third type of person is the same in that they want to impress others, but they can’t afford the real thing. Don’t be this person.

Damage the real deal

Buying a fake watch undermines the whole industry by diluting and redirecting the equity of the watch brands into counterfeit goods. It flouts the long history, the centuries of skill and innovation, and the intellectual property of an industry that the counterfeiters — not the manufacturers — reap the rewards of. They are slowly starving the golden goose, so don’t make it worse by giving counterfeiters your money.

Whenever you are buying a watch from an individual or an online marketplace and you are unsure whether it is genuine or not, you should use an escrow service like Paysho to process your payment. Some of the benefits of using Paysho are:

  • You can inspect the product before we release the money to the seller
  • You have the option of accepting or rejecting the product if you are not happy with it
  • You avoid the risk of losing your your money from faulty products or poor workmanship

buyer protection escrow online classifieds Uncategorized used cars

How To Safely Buy A Used Car

Every day, hundreds of people are losing their hard-earned money trying to buy used cars. The pre-owned car market is very popular because if one looks hard enough, there are some really good deals to be found in that market. However, as with most markets, the used car market is attractive to scammers who are always on the hunt for their next victim. These scammers use Facebook and other online classifieds platforms like Gumtree and OLX to advertise nonexistent cars. Sometimes it’s not easy to differentiate between what is a scam and what is a legitimate sale.

The following are common signs of a scam:

  1. The price of the car is well below the market value. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
  2. Scammers will refuse to provide sufficient contact details. The phone number provided is either faulty, remains unanswered or goes directly to voice mail
  3. Scammers turn off commenting on their posts so people can’t tell other people that the sale is a scam
  4. Scammers will usually make an excuse for not being available via telephone
  5. Scammers may demand the full price of the car, or a deposit, to be transferred immediately. Once they have received money they fail to release the vehicle and become difficult to contact

Scammers often claim to live overseas or have some kind of hidden agenda

Tips to avoid scams:

Never transfer or hand over cash to a seller if you have not seen and verified the vehicle

Always meet with the seller in person, preferably in a public place

Always do a history check on the vehicle to ensure that it’s not stolen and that the car’s details match those on the ownership registration and roadworthy documents

Check that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matches the number on the owner registration and roadworthy documents and that the VIN number on the car has not been tampered with.

Check that the seller’s address matches the address on the registration and roadworthy documents.

Research the car’s value by searching for similar models online. If the value of the car is far below what it should be, it could be a scam

Check the service history of the car

If you suspect fraud or are a victim of a scam, contact your nearest Police station immediately.

One way to ensure that you never fall victim to scams is to use an escrow service like Paysho when buying a used vehicle. With Paysho, you are guaranteed to either get what you pay for or, at the very worst, your money back. Click here to learn more about how Paysho works and how it can protect you from getting scammed.


Buyer Protection Against Dishonest Contractors

A few months ago, Carte Blanche flighted an episode on which a Johannesburg pool contractor was accused of scamming several home owners out of huge amounts of money. The story goes that the contractor would collect a 50-70% deposit, arrive on site to dig a massive hole on the ground, leave and never be seen again…

Thousands of homeowners have lost hundreds of thousands of Rands to dishonest builders, carpenters, plumbers and other contractors who have talked a good game, collected a deposit and then disappeared into thin air. In some instances, the contractor does complete the job but does so in such a shoddy manner that sometimes another contractor has to be hired to fix the mess. 

Admittedly, most contractors do a good job. And when they mess up, the vast majority put it right at once. But there is a minority out there who will do a bad job and then find ways to avoid putting it right or simply disappear without completing the job after being paid a deposit or the full amount.

Thanks to Paysho, you no longer have to worry about people running off with your hard-earned money or delivering poor workmanship. Paysho does not only provide buyer protection for physical goods but for services as well. With Paysho, your money is always 100% safe. Guaranteed

And there is usually no obvious way to tell good the good guys from the bad guys because the bad ones don’t look or sound like bad ones.


buyer protection Uncategorized

Beware of COVID-19 Scams

One silver lining that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about is the large number of South Africans who have been able to generate an income for themselves by selling different kinds of personal protective equipment including masks, face shields, sanitizer dispensers etc…

Although no formal studies have been done with regards to the revenue that has so far been generated through the buying and selling of this equipment, the surge in the number of related social media posts, websites and classifieds adverts suggests that it is likely to run into hundreds of millions of Rands.

Many of these websites, social media posts and classifieds adverts will be from honest sellers. However, there will also be people that seek to take advantage of unwary buyers and scamming them out of their hard-earned money. Without proper precautions, the goods that a buyer receives may not match what they paid for. Or, worse yet, they may not receive the goods at all.

One way to guarantee that as a buyer you 1) receive the goods you’ve paid for and 2) that they are of the correct standard and quality is to use a reputable escrow service like Paysho to facilitate your payments.

How Paysho works:

  1. The buyer and the seller agree to the terms of the transaction.
  2. Paysho collects the funds from the buyer and the seller is notified that the funds have been secured.
  3. The seller ships the agreed goods to the buyer
  4. The buyer receives and inspects the goods
  5. If the buyer accepts the goods, Paysho releases the funds to the seller.