Toronto Hydro is warning the public of scammers going door-to-door posing as employees and pretending to inspect meters and panels or sell and install products.
This is just one of many ongoing scams targeting residential and small business customers, according to the agency's website.
One of the more common scams involves fraudsters threatening to disconnect power, by calling customers and 'masking' their numbers so it appears that Toronto Hydro is calling.
In this scenario, the agency says the scammers claim to be from the “Toronto Hydro Billing and Collections Process” and threaten customers with immediate disconnection 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. When customers call the 1-800 number, they hear a phone message that is very similar to what they’d hear if they called the agency.
In another situation, customers are receiving 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.
"This is a scam – we never send these types of messages. Don’t click on any links, as fraudsters are attempting to access your personal information," said the agency in a statement.
Example of fraudulent bill and letter
Another ongoing scam involves customers receiving fake bills and customer letters also demanding payment for a 'smart meter deposit,' which the agency advises isn't a real charge.
"Don’t make any payments if you receive a suspicious bill. Check the account number and compare any suspicious documents to your previous invoices."
In other cases, the agency says fraudsters are approaching customers door-to-door and 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, which the agency says it never does.
How to protect yourself against scams:
- Immediately hang up on any suspicious phone calls. Remember, Toronto Hydro doesn't have a 1-800 number.
- Don't click on any links in emails/text messages asking you to accept electronic transfers. Also, remember that Toronto Hydro doesn't accept bitcoin as a method of payment.
- Avoid sharing any personal information over the phone or in-person.
- Don't make any payments related to Smart Meter Deposits – such a fee doesn’t exist.
- Always compare bills to previous ones, including the amount and account number.
If you suspect you’re the target of fraudulent activity, the agency recommends reporting it online or contacting the Customer Care team (416-542-8000) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) by phone.