BC Hydro warns customers of an increase in scams since announcing bill help
VANCOUVER: BC Hydro is warning customers after it has seen a 350 per cent increase in reported scams in the month of April compared to March.
Since announcing its COVID-19 Relief Fund on April 1, BC Hydro has had over 500 reported incidents of attempted scams targeting its customers. Of particular concern is the increasing sophistication of these scam operations.
BC Hydro is aware of two types of scams, one of which involves a fraudster threatening service disconnection for an overdue account. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, BC Hydro has suspended all disconnections for non-payment and is asking customers to remain vigilant and aware of the nature of these ongoing scams, which include:
- Phone and email scam – Customers receive automated calls or fake bill notification emails from fraudsters posing as BC Hydro employees, threatening disconnection for an overdue bill. Customers are asked to call a 1-877 number to make a payment, and the number connects to a replica of BC Hydro's phone system. Fraudsters then ask the customer to purchase pre-paid credit cards or deposit money into a bitcoin ATM wallet to avoid disconnection.
- Phishing scam – Customers receive a text message that appears to be from BC Hydro, indicating that they are eligible for a refund. Customers are directed to click a link to submit their banking information for deposit.
To avoid falling victim to these scams, BC Hydro wants its customers to know:
- It has suspended all disconnections for non-payment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It does not collect credit card or bank account information over the phone, by email or text.
- It does not accept payment from pre-paid cash or credit cards, or bitcoin ATM.
- It does not offer refunds or credits through Interac e-transfer.
If a customer doubts the authenticity of an email, text, or phone call, they should call BC Hydro at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) or check their MyHydro account. Customers are also encouraged to report suspected fraud to their local police department.