Callers pretending to be Whitby Hydro employees demand payment of hydro bills
WHITBY, ON, March 13, 2019 /CNW/ - Some customers of Whitby Hydro have received telephone calls demanding they immediately pay hydro bills or have their electricity disconnected. The callers are scammers who pretend to be employees of the utility.
In a typical call, the customer is told to phone a toll‑free number to provide credit card information to make the payment and avoid disconnection. The toll-free number is answered by another scammer posing as a Whitby Hydro employee.
"Whitby Hydro doesn't ask for credit card information from our customers because we don't take credit card payments directly or over the phone," says Angela Valentine, director of customer service for Whitby Hydro.
Whitby Hydro also does not take prepaid credit cards for bill payment. However in some calls, the scammer tells the customer to purchase a prepaid card and then call a toll-free number to supply the code on the back of the card to prevent disconnection. That code allows the scammer to steal the cash from the card and complete the fraud.
Customers should be extremely suspicious about anyone who calls and demands personal or financial information such as credit card numbers.
"If you have any concerns about the identity of an individual claiming to be calling from Whitby Hydro protect yourself by hanging up," advises Valentine. "Then call our Customer Service team at (905) 668‑8480 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and we'll be happy to talk with you about your account."
In Ontario, there is currently a province‑wide freeze on disconnecting residential customers for not paying bills until April 30, 2019. However, even after the moratorium ends on May 1st, a customer who has overdue arrears would not hear about being disconnected for the first time through a threatening telephone call. A customer who has fallen behind on payments would be given several notices along with offers of payment options and assistance well in advance of any disconnection for non‑payment. Whitby Hydro follows the Ontario Energy Board's customer service rules covering bill payment and disconnection, available to the public at the website oeb.ca/rules.
SOURCE Whitby Hydro
For further information: Rick Butts for Whitby Hydro, 905 717‑2878 ([email protected])