March is National Fraud Prevention Month and Toronto Hydro is once again sharing information to help customers protect themselves and their businesses from falling victim to fraud.
In 2022, although the number of fraud cases reported to Toronto Hydro was significantly lower than the previous year, the total amount paid to scammers increased. Scammers mostly targeted small businesses in the restaurant and grocery industry by threatening immediate disconnection. This made up 60 per cent of the total payments to scammers last year.
Scammers are known to impersonate local utilities by sending threatening phone calls, texts and emails, or showing up in-person at a customer’s home or business to request personal information. These requests may include pressure for immediate payment, threats to disconnect service the same day, and even demands to purchase prepaid debit cards, gift cards or cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin.
Toronto Hydro is encouraging business and residential customers to protect themselves 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
- Know that utility companies will never threaten immediate disconnection for non-payment
- If you feel threatened in any way, contact your local police
For business customers specifically, Toronto Hydro is reminding owners to be cautious of unsolicited calls and to not provide or confirm any information from calls they did not initiate — including address, account numbers or office details. Compiling a list of companies their business uses, including utility providers, will help employees know which contacts are legitimate.
For more information about protecting yourself from scams and fraud, please visit www.torontohydro.com/fraud. 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.