Technology is great, it makes our lives easier but sometimes it can also make us vulnerable to individuals who take advantage of the information available to them.
Across the province local hydro utilities are warning their customers about scammers who are trying to take advantage and extort money from both residential customers and small businesses.
Residential customers and small businesses are receiving calls from people claiming to be their utility. One scam is that customers will get a call and, customers are threatened with service disconnection if they do not make an immediate payment at cryptocurrency machines, typically located inside convenience stores, cafes, or in malls. Cryptocurrency is not an accepted form of payment for local hydro utilities. Customers should not share any account information or attempt payments – they should simply hang up.
Individuals posing as representatives of the utility are also contacting customers by phone and threatening to disconnect their power if they do not make a payment immediately. In a few cases, these fraudsters have shown up at the customers’ home or business.
Usually, these fraudsters ask that customers call a 1-800 number (like 1-855 or something similar) to make a payment using a pre-paid card or bitcoin. When customers call the 1-800 number, they hear a phone message that is very similar to what they’d hear if they called a utility company, but it isn’t.
Unfortunately, as technology develops so do the ways fraudsters attack customers. Local hydro utilities are there for their customers and try to keep them up to date on activities that are happening and what individuals can dot o protect themselves. Your local hydro utility should have a number to call to report fraudulent activity or contact the utility’s customer service line.
Local Hydro Utilities Do Not:
- Ask for credit card payments over the phone, or accept cryptocurrency or bitcoin, gift cards, or prepaid credit cards as forms of payment
- Disconnect service with little or no notice
- Call customers regarding account status outside of regular business hours
- Send text message alerts to customers
- Immediately hang up on any suspicious phone calls.
- Don't click on any links in emails/text messages asking you to accept electronic transfers.
- Remember utilities do not accept bitcoin as a method of payment.
- Avoid sharing any personal information over the phone or in-person.
- Always compare bills to previous ones, including the amount and account number.