Keep yourself and your information safe: avoiding potential scams
This story is an update of earlier information about past scams. Updated September 2021.
Scammers are always finding new ways to try to trick our customers, from knocking on their doors to try to gain entry to homes, to sending emails pretending to be a representative from BC Hydro. It's important to protect yourself and your personal information, which is why we're outlining the scams we're aware of, and how you can avoid them.
How the email phishing scams work
There are a number of different ways fraudsters use email phishing to collect money or information. In the past, customers may have been contacted by text message or email from a fake email with what appears to be a notification from Interac with a link to receive a refund from BC Hydro.
More recently, scammers have "spoofed" a real BC Hydro email address, making it appear that the message is coming from us. Although the "from" address may appear to be a real BC Hydro email used to send legitimate mail, be wary of any messages that seem suspicious or unexpected:
- BC Hydro doesn't offer refunds or credits, or accept payments through Interac e-transfer.
- Take note of the Interac info for Power Smart programs; that's currently the only legitimate Interac email you will receive from BC Hydro, and only if you have explicitly opted-in through MyHydro.
- If you receive an email that claims to be from us that you were not expecting, or your account/billing status in the email seems incorrect, check your account on MyHydro or give us a call to verify.
In these messages, customers are told to click on a link to access their account refund by submitting their banking information. This is a scam: it's not from BC Hydro, and it's an attempt to obtain your private banking information.
How the door to door scam works
One ongoing scam involves fraudsters knocking on your front door and claiming to be from BC Hydro. They will try to gain access to your home by saying they need to inspect your furnace, and in some cases may even try to convince you that you need a new one.
BC Hydro will not need access to your home without your prior knowledge. If a BC Hydro employee does need to speak with you or any reason, such as an outage or other emergency, you can request their BC Hydro ID and call 1 800 BC Hydro (1 800 224 9376) to confirm that they're a legitimate employee or contractor.
How the phone scam works
Similar to the door to door scam, fraudsters pose as BC Hydro employees, this time contacting customers by telephone and asking them to purchase a cash gift card to pay for their overdue account and avoid disconnection of their service.
We don't collect credit card or bank account information over the telephone and we don't accept payment by cash gift cards or Bitcoin. If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to represent BC Hydro, hang up and call 1 800 BC Hydro to verify the call.
How the Bitcoin scam works
The Bitcoin scam is similar to the telephone scam in which fraudsters pose as BC Hydro employees contact customers by telephone and ask them to purchase a cash gift card to pay for their overdue account and avoid disconnection of their service. This time around scammers tell customers to pay with Bitcoin.
The "Bitcoin scammers" email customers a bar code (or QR Code) with the scammer's Bitcoin wallet information, with the email coming from the fictitious firstname.lastname@example.org. This message is a scam. Thinking that they're paying their BC Hydro bill, the customer takes the barcode to a Bitcoin ATM – details of locations nearby provided by the scammer – where it is scanned to complete a deposit of cash to the fraudster.
A reminder: We don't collect credit card or bank account information over the telephone and we don't accept payment by cash gift cards or Bitcoin. If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to represent BC Hydro, hang up and call 1 800 BC Hydro (1 800 224 9376) to verify the call. Phone spoofing technology can make incoming calls appear as though they're legitimately coming from us, so it's always better to hang up and call us back to confirm.
Some BC Hydro Power Smart programs, notably Team Power Smart, offer the option to receive your reward or rebate via e-transfer. Here's how to tell if you've received a legitimate note about your rebate or reward:
- You will only receive an email about an Interac e-transfer from BC Hydro if you have participated in a Power Smart program (such as the Team Power Smart Reduction Challenge) and selected e-transfer to receive your reward or rebate. You'll never receive this note as a text message.
- You will need to specifically make the selection to receive Interac e-transfer within MyHydro as part of your program participation or rebate application; the default selection will always be a credit on your BC Hydro bill.
- You can never use Interac to pay your BC Hydro bill, and you'll never get a text message of any kind related to BC Hydro from Interac, which only uses email for BC Hydro transactions.
- If you haven't participated in a Power Smart program and specifically selected Interac e-transfer for your option, you won't receive an email from us with your reward or rebate.
If you've signed up for MyHydro, you can see the latest information for your account, including your account balance, by logging in to your account at bchydro.com. You can also give us a call with any questions.
If you receive a fraudulent text or email
Customers are asked to report any fraudulent texts or emails they receive to their local police department and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1 888 495 8501.
If you're ever unsure about whether a communication from BC Hydro is legitimate, don't click any links or open any files sent to you. Call our customer team at 1 800 BC Hydro (1 800 224 9376) for clarification.