TORONTO - Five of Ontario's largest utilities have joined forces to raise awareness about ongoing sophisticated scams targeting utility customers.
Some common tactics fraudsters use to target Ontarians include 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 or payment. The requests can include pressure for immediate payment, threats to disconnect service the same day, and demands to purchase prepaid debit cards, gift cards or bitcoin.
The utilities are encouraging all customers to protect themselves and are providing them with the following tips to stay safe:
- 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
- Only provide personal information or details about your account when you have initiated the contact with the utility representative
- Utility companies will never threaten immediate disconnection for non-payment
- If you feel threatened in any way, contact your local police
- Steps you can take to protect yourself against fraud:
Take five minutes to ask additional questions and listen to your instincts — if something doesn't seem right, ask someone about it
- Immediately hang up on suspicious phone calls
- Don't click any links in emails/text messages asking you to accept electronic transfers
- Avoid sharing personal information
- Always compare bills to previous ones, including the dollar amount and account number
- Reporting suspicious behaviour
If you believe you may be a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 and your local utility.
Customers can find more information at:
- Alectra Utilities
- Elexicon Energy
- Hydro One
- Hydro Ottawa
- Toronto Hydro