The Department of Justice filed a civil complaint against KFJ Marketing, Sunlight Solar Leads, Go Green Education and the owner of those companies, Francisco Salvat, for over a million unlawful robocalls promoting solar panel sales to consumers who had placed their phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

This suit comes amid a growing movement toward solar energy. Nautilus Solar CEO Jim Rice said in an interview with HousingWire last year that people are more broadly starting to accept the asset class, and banks are coming into the market.

Even the Federal Housing Administration announced a plan to reduce multifamily insurance rates in order to encourage capital financing of affordable and energy-efficient apartments.

According to the DOJ, the companies and the owner of those companies violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule.

The California telemarketer operated a campaign that delivered pre-recorded “robocall” messages warning consumers about a purported looming “14% increase” in their energy bill, the DOJ said in a release.

The complaint alleges that the defendants violated federal law by placing 1.3 million calls to phone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry and by failing to transmit accurate caller ID information.  

When called, the DOJ said that consumers were invited to “press one” to lower their electric bill, and if they did, consumers were connected with one of the defendants’ employees, who asked about the consumer’s interest in solar panels.

As a result, the consumers who expressed interest in solar panels were given an appointment with a private solar installation company and had their information sold to that company as a customer lead.

“Federal law protects the privacy interests of American consumers by prohibiting calls made to numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry and otherwise limiting calls made by telemarketers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

“The Department of Justice will continue to work with the Federal Trade Commission to ensure entities like those named in today’s lawsuit are penalized when they make unwanted and unlawful phone calls,” Mizer said.