Fraudsters posing as BC Hydro employees swindled nearly $45,000 out of the hands of customers in 2018, as intricate scams continue to gain momentum.
BC Hydro announced Friday that fraudulent thefts were up 50 per cent last year compared to 2017. Reports of customers being contacted by scammers were also up, reaching a record 2,000 calls.
“While these numbers are significant, they likely underrepresent the scale of the problem, as it is believed most attempted and successful scams are not reported,” the utility said in a news release.
Fraudsters would contact people by phone, email or text and threaten to immediately disconnect service if a payment is not received. Customers were then asked to buy pre-paid cash or credit cards, or deposit money into a bitcoin ATM.
Scams were reported mostly in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, Nanaimo, and Vernon.
BC Hydro does not collect credit card or bank information over the phone, nor by email or text, and does not accept payment from pre-paid cash, credit card or bitcoin.
It only sends notices by email or using an auto-dialer to remind customers to make a payment, which cannot be done over the phone. Customers can check their account online or check the authenticity of a call by calling 1-800-BCHYDRO.