BC Hydro is warning customers after a massive spike in scams compared to the month of March.
The company says that it has seen a 350% increase in reported scams, which began when it announced a COVID-19 relief package for its customers.
The three-month relief package was announced on April 1 and includes benefits for residential owners, small business owners, and large industrial businesses.
BC Hydro says that since the announcement, it has received over 500 reported incidents of attempted scams.
“Of particular concern is the increasing sophistication of these scam operations,” says the company in a written statement.
There are two types of known scams. The first comes through the phone or by email and threatens to disconnect customers due to an overdue bill. Customers are then asked to call a 1-877 number which uses a replica of BC Hydro’s phone system.
Fraudsters then ask the customer to purchase pre-paid credit cards or deposit money into a bitcoin ATM wallet.
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The second scam comes in the form of a text message. Customers receive a message from BC Hydro explaining that they’re eligible for a refund. The text also includes a link that asks the customer to share their banking information for a deposit.
BC Hydro is reminding customers that it has suspended all disconnections for non-payment during the pandemic. The company also stresses that it will not collect credit card or bank account information through phone, email, or text.
It also does not accept payment from pre-paid cash or credit cards or bitcoin, and it does not issue refunds through e-transfer.
“If a customer doubts the authenticity of an email, text, or phone call, they should call BC Hydro at 1-800-224-9376,” says the company.
Customers are also encouraged to report suspected fraud to their local police department.