toronto hydro scam

Toronto warned of scammers sending fake electricity bills and e-Transfers

Toronto Hydro is warning residents to be aware of a number of ongoing scams in the city, including one where fraudsters send out fake electricity bills, and another where they claim to be sending an e-Transfer to customers on their behalf.

The hydro company tweeted about the e-Transfer scam Tuesday afternoon along with a photo example of a fraudulent text message, telling Torontonians not to click the link if they ever receive a similar message.

"There are a number of ongoing scams targeting our residential and small business customers," reads a message on Toronto Hydro's webpage about scams and fraud.

"Fraudsters are contacting customers by phone, text message, email, fake electricity bills and door-to-door visits. Make sure you know how to spot a scam and what to do if you suspect you're the target of fraudulent activity."

One example of a phone call customers have reported receiving includes fraudsters masking their numbers, claiming to be "Toronto Hydro Billing and Collections Process," and threatening immediate disconnection of power if payment isn't made right away.

"Usually, these fraudsters ask that customers call a 1-800 number (like 1-855 or something similar) to make a payment using a pre-paid card or bitcoin," says the hydro company. "When customers call the 1-800 number, they hear a phone message that is very similar to what they'd hear if they called Toronto Hydro."

The hydro company says in reality, they never threaten to immediately disconnect power, nor do they proactively ask for payment by pre-paid card. They also don't accept bitcoin.

Other customers have meanwhile reportedly received emails and/or text messages that appear to be from Toronto Hydro asking that they accept an electronic transfer (credit or refund) by clicking on a link.

Toronto Hydro says these messages are always a scam, as they never send these types of alerts and customers should avoid clicking on them to prevent fraudsters from accessing their personal information.

Another type of scam that has been reported by Toronto Hydro customers includes receiving fake bills and customer letters demanding payment for a "Smart Meter Deposit."

The hydro company says this is not a real charge, and customers shouldn't attempt to make any payments if they receive a suspicious bill.

"Check the account number and compare any suspicious documents to your previous invoices," they advise. 

Other customers have meanwhile reported fraudsters going door-to-door, posing as Toronto Hydro representatives, and pretending to inspect meters and panels or sell and install products (like smart meters or devices to prevent power surges).

Toronto Hydro, on the other hand, says they never go door-to-door to solicit sales.

The hydro company says Toronto residents should take steps to protect themselves from falling victim to one of these crimes by immediately hanging up on any suspicious phone calls, not clicking on any links in emails/text messages asking to accept electronic transfers, avoiding sharing any personal information over the phone or in-person, not making any payments related to Smart Meter Deposits, and always comparing bills to previous ones. 

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