BC Hydro sees all-time high number of scams in 2018
BC Hydro customers across the province were out nearly $45,000 combined in 2018 from fraudsters. This means people posing as BC Hydro employees were 50% more successful in their attempts to steal money in 2018 than the year prior.
Nearly 6,000 reports have been sent to BC Hydro since scams started to gain momentum in 2014 and more than 2,000, the highest amount for one year, happened in 2018.
While the numbers are not as high for scams in northern BC, with communities like Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Surrey listed as the most targeted, residents in the north are not immune.
“We are not seeing the numbers like they are seeing in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island but we still want our customers to be aware that there are scammers out there who will try to take away their money by posing as BC Hydro representatives,” said Northern Spokesperson Bob Gammer.
“We want our customers to take precautions and to not be intimidated if somebody calls to say that [BC Hydro] is going to disconnect their power if they don’t pay us right now. BC Hydro would never do that.”
BC Hydro has released information it wants customers to be aware of to avoid being scammed. It includes:
- It does not collect credit card or bank account information over the phone or by email or text. and it does not accept payment from pre-paid cash or credit cards, or bitcoin;
- If an account is in arrears, BC Hydro will send several notices by mail and use an auto dialer to remind customers to make a payment. Customers can also check their account status at any time at their website; and
- If a customer doubts the authenticity of the call, they should hang up and call BC Hydro immediately at 1-800-BCHYDRO
Reported scams involved customers being contacted by phone, email, or text, with fraudsters threatening to immediately disconnect if a payment is not received.
“What we’re finding is that businesses are often targeted and they can be targeted at busy times of the day when a shop owner doesn’t have time to really think about things because there is a lot of customers in the store and the scammers seem to know when that sensitive time is,” Gammer added.
BC Hydro has provided an audio example of a scam being sent to customers.