Local utilities warn customers of electricity bill phone scams during Fraud Prevention Month in March

TORONTO, March 1, 2016 /CNW/ - Ontarians lose tens of thousands of dollars every year to phone scams related to their electricity bills – a crime that has been active in more than seven provinces and which has targeted thousands of businesses according to the RCMP.

For Fraud Prevention Month, local utilities are working together through the Electricity Distributors Association to protect Ontarians by providing tips to help them deal with suspicious phone calls.

As consumer-facing utilities that deliver reliable power to their communities, they take the safety of customers and employees very seriously.

"It is alarming how widespread these phone scams are," says Todd Wilcox, Chair of the Electricity Distributors Association. "Customer safety is the priority for all of our utility members and we want to make sure customers are ready to respond to potential scams."

Ontario's 52 municipal police forces have also been alerted to these scams and are helping raise awareness in their communities.

"During the past year, police across Ontario have become increasingly aware of these sophisticated, well-organized phone scams that prey on people's lack of understanding about their rights when it comes to their financial matters," said OACP President Chief Jeff McGuire. "If you feel uneasy about a phone call about your utility bill, call for help."

Here's how you can stay safe from electricity bill phone scams:

  • If someone calls and threatens to disconnect you if you don't make a payment right away by pre-paid credit card or wire transfer, SAY NO and HANG UP!
  • NEVER give your personal or financial information.
  • Report the incident to your utility and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. This agency collects information on fraud and works closely with police to solve these crimes.

Ontarians should also beware of telephone scams related to the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) for low-income electricity customers. Individuals claiming to be affiliated with the program are requesting access to customers' homes. Ontarians are being reminded that the program application and approval process does not require a home visit. The EDA also reminds Ontarians to ask for identification if someone goes to their door claiming to work for the local utility.

Follow @EDA_ONT on twitter this month for more fraud prevention tips using the hashtag #FPM2016 and visit http://bit.ly/1Ml9cDW for more information.

About the EDA
The Electricity Distributors Association (EDA) is the voice of Ontario's local electricity distributors, the municipally and privately owned companies that safely and reliably deliver electricity to 5.1 million Ontario homes, businesses and public institutions.

SOURCE Electricity Distributors Association

Image with caption: "Electricity Distributors Association (CNW Group/Electricity Distributors Association) (CNW Group/Electricity Distributors Association)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160301_C8462_PHOTO_EN_632943.jpg

For further information: For more information and to arrange interviews please contact the EDA's Director of Corporate Affairs & Communications, Jana Manolakos at (905) 265-5337 or email to jmanolakos@eda-on.ca


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