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Toronto Hydro warning customers after spike in reported incidents of fraud
Utility launches awareness campaign during Fraud Prevention Month to educate
customers about how to spot scams
TORONTO, March 6, 2019 /CNW/ - March is Fraud Prevention Month and Toronto Hydro is raising awareness about popular scams targeting our customers.
In 2018, we received more than 1,100 reports of scams and customer payments to fraudsters totalled more than $45,000. In January of this year, we saw a 120% increase in reported cases of fraud as compared to the monthly average for all of 2018.
The majority of scams target small business and residential customers over the phone. Fraudsters claiming to be from "Toronto Hydro's Billing and Collection Process" threaten to disconnect power immediately if payments are not made. We never threaten customers with immediate disconnections.
Some customers are also receiving emails and/or text messages that appear to be from Toronto Hydro, asking them to accept an electronic transfer (credit or refund) by clicking on a link. We never send these types of emails/text messages.
Another popular scam involves fake bills which are emailed to customers with a personalized letter threatening disconnection unless a $400 payment is made for a Smart Meter Deposit. This is not a legitimate charge.
Scams are constantly evolving, but learning how to spot the red flags will help protect you against fraudsters:
- We don't accept bitcoin or wire transfers as methods of payment
- We don't threaten immediate disconnection for non-payment. Our collections process includes telephone messages and a hand delivered notice
- Inaccurate account numbers are a red flag for fraud. Always compare suspicious invoices with a previous bill and note the account number and the previous amount
Block scammers with these tips:
- Don't provide any personal or account information if contacted by phone, email or text
- Don't make any type of payment until you can confirm you're dealing with Toronto Hydro
- Don't click on any links advertising a refund or a rebate in text messages or emails as this is a tactic fraudsters use to access personal information
Contact Toronto Hydro's Customer Care department at 416-542-8000 if you suspect any type of fraud and then report suspicious activity to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 and quote file number 844396.
"Understanding how to recognize fraud is the best defense against it. We've seen a rise in the number of reported cases of fraud and we don't want any of our customers to make payments to these scammers, or to have their personal information compromised."
- Christina Basil, Spokesperson, Toronto Hydro
ABOUT TORONTO HYDRO
Toronto Hydro owns and operates the electricity distribution system for Canada's largest city. A leader in conservation and demand management, it has 770,000 customers located in the city of Toronto and distributes approximately 19% of the electricity consumed in Ontario.
SOURCE Toronto Hydro Corporation