Toronto Hydro is urging customers to watch out for hydro scams as 2019 has so far seen a spike in reported scams.
According to Toronto Hydro spokesperson Christina Basil, the number of scams has increased from 2018.
In January of this year, the number of reported scams was up 120 per cent from last year’s monthly average.
The types of scams are as diverse as the people they target.
Criminals have targeted individuals with phone calls and text messages warning the recipients to pay a fee or face severe penalties.
The Toronto police financial crimes unit advises that Toronto Hydro does not text its customers.
A1: @Torontohydro do not communicate via text with their customers #bills #Spotthescam #Fraudchat #FPM2019 pic.twitter.com/16Je2AU2Ym
— TPS Financial Crimes (@TPSFCU) March 21, 2019
Scammers have also been known to send fake bills. Toronto Hydro urges potential victims to check the account numbers carefully.
A2: If you receive a suspicious bill, verify that your account number is correct and refer to a past invoice for comparison.
If the account number doesn’t match, the correspondence is fraudulent. #FraudChat #SpotTheScam pic.twitter.com/INM7N0rmE2
— Toronto Hydro (@TorontoHydro) March 21, 2019
“Some [scammers] are even posing as door-to-door reps according to reports from Toronto police,” Basil said.
Business have proven to be a popular target for the scammers. A common tactic used is to pose as a Toronto Hydro representative and then threaten to cut off power to any business that doesn’t agree immediately pay a fine.
Keilley Routledge, owner of Small Wonders Pets on Danforth Avenue, said she was called by someone claiming to be a representative of Toronto Hydro and claimed her business hadn’t paid their hydro bill.
She became suspicious when the caller asked her to make a cash payment at a convenience store in the Leslieville area.
A second call come from the same number but that time it was a different caller making the same claim, which prompted Routledge to contact Toronto Hydro about the scam.
However, while checking the call display, Routledge made a disturbing discovery.
“What stood out to me was that it was a Toronto Hydro number,” Routledge said.
More details about the scams and how to respond can be found on the Toronto Hydro Customer care page.