Ontario's five largest electricity providers join together to warn of holiday scams
TORONTO -- Ontario’s five largest electricity utilities have come together to warn the public about ongoing scams concerning fake phone calls, texts and bills connected to the utility accounts.
“We always receive these reports of scams and it gets increasingly higher during the holidays when people are busy and enjoying the season," said Whitney Brhelle, spokesperson with Hydro One.
Hydro One joined with Alectra Utilities, Elexicon Energy, Hydro Ottawa and Toronto Hydro to get the message out that scammers are targeting customers and threatening to turn off their power.
Scams involve impersonation of a local utility or its employees, threatening phone calls, texts or emails and pressure for immediate payment that come with threats to disconnect service the same day.
Criminals may demand payment in prepaid debit cards, gift cards or Bitcoin. Utilities said they would never call a customer without notice and threaten disconnection.
“People have been calling customers and saying you need to pay your bill immediately and they are threatened with disconnection which is something that we would never do," said Kimberly Brathwaite, spokesperson with Elexicon Energy.
Scammers are also creating fake bills that look like the real thing.
“Scammers will actually take our Alectra logo and send out various authentic looking documents to people’s homes, so people have to be aware and check their statements very carefully” said Ashley Trgachef spokesperson with Alectra Utilities.
Customers are advised to never make a payment not listed on their recent bill and to ignore texts or emails with links promising refunds and not to provide personal information or details about their account.
If you are given a number to call don’t call the number provided, you are better off to go to your bill or the utility’s website to makes sure it is the correct number for customer service.
Some scammers have even gone door to door demanding payment, and the utilities are advising anyone who feels threatened to call police.
They are also asking that you share the information with family and friends to be careful if they are contacted by someone claiming to be with their electricity company.
If you fall for a scam and money is sent, it's very difficult to get it back.