Beware! Scams targeting electricity customers are increasing. The most common scams involve a telephone call from someone claiming to be from Alectra Utilities (or the electrical utility in the targeted area) who says that your account is overdue and, if payment is not made immediately, electricity will be disconnected in the next half-hour.
What Should I Do If I Get a Suspicious Phone Call, Text or Letter?
- Always verify your account information with Alectra Utilities’ Customer Care Representatives directly using the phone number on your bill if you suspect suspicious activity
- Never make a payment for a charge that isn’t listed on your most recent Alectra Utilities bill
- Do not provide any personal information, including your Alectra Utilities bill or account number
- Do not click on links provided in text messages
- Do not allow the fraudster to arrange a time to visit your home
- Contact Alectra Utilities’ Customer Care Representatives during regular business hours to discuss any outstanding account activity
Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 if you or a family member have been contacted by a scammer, even if you didn't give them any money.
If you or a family member did lose money, please contact your local police as well.
How to Identify a Fraudulent Call
- Tends to target small businesses, such as restaurants or beauty salons and spas
- Comes at time of day when being without electricity would be particularly troublesome to the business, such as right before the lunch or dinner rush for a restaurant
- Comes at a time when the customer service department at the utility is likely closed or close to closing, such as at the end of the day or before or during a holiday
- Comes from a 1-800 number, and may display the name "Alectra Utilities", or "Hydro"
- If you call back the displayed number, the call is answered "Alectra Utilities", "Hydro", Disconnections Department", or something similar
- The amount that is "overdue" is usually around $1,000 to $1,500
Various types of scams
Phone Scam: The phone scheme involves a scammer claiming to be an Alectra Utilities technician demanding payment and threatening to remove the Smart Meter and install an analog meter. The fraudulent calls inform customers that their power would be disconnected for several hours during the meter swap – unless they immediately pay by credit card at random kiosks in grocery stores.
Alectra Utilities does not charge customers for meter exchanges or ask customers to make payment using gift cards or at banking kiosks.
Text Scam: The text scam involves text messages being sent to customers claiming a refund is available from the utility. The text message includes a fraudulent Interac e-transfer link to follow.
Alectra Utilities never sends text messages to inform customers of refunds or service disconnections.
Letter Scam: The letter (mail) scam involves letters being mailed to customers advising of an outstanding amount owed for a Smart Meter deposit. The letter scam is primarily targeted at business customers and threatens disconnection unless a Smart Meter fee is paid immediately.
Alectra Utilities does not charge customers for their Smart Meter and advises customers in advance of any changes to their service or account.
Don’t be frightened by threats of disconnection
Since we do contact customers for payment of overdue accounts, it may be important to understand our process in order to recognize a scam call if you get one.
The following is the process we follow for collection of accounts that are overdue:
- Our credit department only makes calls Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- We do not have a "Disconnections Department"
- We would never demand immediate payment using a pre-paid credit card, gift card, PayPal or Bitcoin.
- We do not accept wire transfer payments
Alectra Utilities makes every effort to contact customers before disconnecting service, including mailing a written notice, hand delivering a disconnection notice, making phone calls and, if service is about to be disconnected, knocking on the door to contact the customer in person.