Are you worried about making a mistake and getting yourself mixed up in a gas and electricity scam? As these become increasingly more common, the anxiety of having your financial information compromised by a gas and electricity scam is increasing as well. However, there are a number of strategies you can apply to your everyday life that can help you to avoid falling victim to one of these scams.
The first thing you should do is properly educated yourself on what scams are out there. Of course, these won’t always stay the same. Hackers and phishing scheme perpetrators are successful because of their ability to be innovative. In other words, you’ll have to continue to stay up-to-date on the latest schemes to keep yourself safe, but there are patterns that these schemes follow, and there are indicators that the information being presented to you is suspicious in nature. Learning about the latest threats that are out there will help you identify future threats based on those similar patterns and features.
Currently, the Utilities United Against Scams, a group of 100 electric, natural gas, and water companies from across North America that has joined together in an effort to protect customers from fraud, has identified four types of active gas and electricity scams:
The Electricity Disconnection Scam:
So far, this scam has been targeting small businesses (primarily restaurants) in Calgary. The scam features a caller who claims to be from the electricity company (often ENMAX); he or she informs the business owner that the power will immediately be disconnected unless the bill is paid in full using a credit card.
What should you do if you get this call?
Hang up the phone and don’t disclose any information. Most power companies have policies in place that state the power cannot be cut off without a fair warning process, and ENMAX does not take credit card payments over the phone. If you are concerned, contact your electricity provider using the contact number provided to you on your phone bill to verify the state of your account.
This one targets everyone who has an email address. There are a couple of different emails out there that claim to be from the energy provider. These emails instruct the individual to click on a link to view a document, then prompt for account login credentials.
What should you do if you encounter this scam?
Don’t even open the email. Just delete any suspicious-looking email. If you’ve already opened it and clicked the link, update and change your user name and password on your account. Remember that you can always double check the validity of the email by contacting your energy provider directly.
Text Message and Email Scam
ENMAX customers have been receiving fraudulent text messages that claim to be from ENMAX and offers to issue the recipient an owed refund if they click a link and submit their banking information.
What should you do if you receive this message?
Don’t click the link. Call 1-888-495-8501 to report the scam to The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
ENMAX customers have reported a man going door-to-door in Calgary wearing an ENMAX T-shirt and asking vague questions about energy use.
What should you do if you see this man?
Call the police if the person has left, or 9-1-1 if he is still present. Remember that any employee of an energy provider (meter readers, etc.) will carry official ID on them. Don’t be afraid to ask to see their ID, and feel free to call your provider if you are unsure.
In this day and age, we all need to be a little more vigilant to protect ourselves against the innovative forms scams can take. We already know to be leery of most of our emails and daily Internet encounters, but it’s important that we also follow steps to protect ourselves from the scams that come at us under the disguise of company names and services we trust. Visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, ENMAX’s updated list of utility scams, and Utilities United Against Scams to stay up-to-date on the current scams.