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This article was published 29/12/2018 (1285 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After seeing an almost 300 per cent jump in the number of fraud-related complaints this year, Manitoba Hydro is warning customers of high-pressure scammers threatening to shut off services without an immediate payment.
"These people are crooks, and you should hang up on them," Chris McColm, Manitoba Hydro’s security and investigations supervisor, said in a statement. "We will never phone you and demand immediate payment by a prepaid card or a money order."
The utility saw 862 phone, text and email scams as of Oct. 31, compared to 221 scam complaints in 2017.
Driving the increase were scammers threatening disconnection of service to small business owners, McColm said.
"Our customers are becoming more educated about fraud, but these scammers can be very convincing — anyone can be victimized," McColm said. "Phone scammers falsify their Caller ID information to make it appear they’re calling from Manitoba Hydro. Their goal is to manipulate you into sending money before you figure out it’s a scam."
Another fraud-related complaint Manitoba Hydro received concerned unsolicited text messages to customers stating they had been overbilled and were eligible for a refund, aiming to get the customer’s personal banking information.
"Never give out personal account information, including debit or credit card information, over the phone or in a text or email," McColm said.
Senior citizens living alone continue to be targeted by aggressive door-to-door sales, McColm said, adding Hydro employees always display Manitoba Hydro photo identification and will never demand to come into your home.
Manitoba Hydro recently joined Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), an alliance of more than 100 electric, water and natural gas companies from across the United States and Canada.
UUAS works across the industry with regulators, law enforcement and telecommunications partners to raise awareness about scams targeting customers.
Visit www.utilitiesunited.org for more information about imposter utility scams, or follow on Twitter, @U_U_A_S and Facebook, @UtilitiesUnited.
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