Ontario’s Five Largest Electricity Utilities Unite To Warn Of Scams This Holiday Season

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Hydro Ottawa warns of scams targeting its customers (CNW Group/Hydro Ottawa Holding Inc.)

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 OntarioAlectra UtilitiesElexicon EnergyHydro OneHydro Ottawa and Toronto Hydro are joining forces to increase 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. 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 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
  • Don’t 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

Fraudsters have increasingly targeted business customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding new and innovative ways to acquire personal information or money. The five utilities are encouraging business customers to protect themselves with the following tips:

  • Educate employees to be cautious of unsolicited calls
    • If they didn’t initiate the call, they shouldn’t provide or confirm any information, including business address, account numbers or office details
  • Compile a list of companies your business uses, including utility providers, to help employees know which contacts are legitimate

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.

SOURCE Alectra Utilities Corporation

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