Toronto (December 7, 2020) – The busy holiday season is prime time for scammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims – especially leading into weekends. In response to increased fraudulent activity across the province, Ontario’s four largest electricity utilities are joining forces to increase awareness about ongoing sophisticated scams targeting utility customers. Residential customers are reminded that disconnection for non-payment has been suspended from November 15 to April 30 for all electricity and gas distributors in the province.
Ontario’s four largest electricity utilities united to warn their customers of scams. Alectra Utilities, Hydro One, Hydro Ottawa, and Toronto Hydro informed the public about recent scams that impersonate the local utility, according to a joint press release.
Some common tactics fraudsters use to target Ontarians include the impersonation of the local utility or its employees; sending threatening phone calls, texts, and emails; or showing up in-person at a customer’s home or business, and requesting personal information.
The requests can include pressure for immediate payment, threats to disconnect service the same day, and even demands to purchase prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or bitcoin. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) recommends never to provide personal information via phone since the rogues may use the fraudulently obtained personal data for identity fraud.
How to protect yourself?
The utilities encouraged customers to protect themselves and remind them of the following tips to stay safe in their press release:
- Never make a payment for a charge that isn’t listed on your most recent bill.
- Ignore text messages or emails with suspicious links promising refunds.
- Don’t call the number provided to you. Instead, call your utility directly to check the status of your account.
- Do not provide any personal information or details about your account.
- Utility companies will never threaten immediate disconnection for non-payment.
- If you feel threatened in any way, contact your local police.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of fraud, is encouraged to contact the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 and your local utility.