Fraud seems to everywhere these days, with many known scams, pitches and fraud types, including variations thereof, with new ones invented daily according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. The Centre has identified six different types of false, deceptive, misleading or fraudulent act or scams:
- Online – through using the internet;
- Email and text message – through email;
- Mail – through use of mail, either through the postal or private mail carrier service;
- Identity theft – used to obtain someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes;
- Business – to manipulate or falsify documents to mimic a real business in order to deceive consumers; and
- Telemarketing scams – where the fraudsters attempt to reach potential victims by phone.
Protecting Yourself from Utility Fraud
At HDF Insurance, while you can insure your business against crime and fraud, there is little protection for consumers besides protecting yourself. That’s why we’ve assembled a team of Edmonton insurance brokers to handle all your insurance needs – from health and home insurance to auto and commercial/business insurance and everything in-between; and why we offer this advice to protect yourself against utility scammers.
It often happens when you least expect it, and that’s what the scammers are counting on. Here’s how the scam works: You get a call about a late phone, gas, or electric bill and the caller threatens to cut off power or other services and offers an “energy assistance” or payment plan. Once they get your payment information, they use that information to fleece you.
What can you do? Like most scams, the more urgent the message, the more you should avoid it. Like Canada Revenue Agency, utilities rarely call customers. Here are some safeguards from the Better Business Bureau:
- Prepaid debit cards or wire transfers are huge warning signs – your real utility company will accept a check or credit card and will usually direct you to one of their payment locations.
- Pressure – if you feel pressured for immediate payment or personal information, hang up the phone and call the customer service number on your utility bill. This will ensure you are speaking to a real representative.
- Don’t let people into your home to check electrical wiring, natural gas pipes or appliances unless you have scheduled an appointment or reported a problem.
- Don’t get lured outside to view broken meters or point out property lines. Always ask utility employees for proper identification. Remember that meters are the property of the utility company and would be the responsibility of the utility to replace or repair.
Take these Steps
The Competition Bureau offers this advice to protect yourself:
- Remember – only your service provider can offer you a better rate or price for their services.
- Caution -be wary of unsolicited calls offering a great deal ‘for a limited time only’.
- Think – don’t give out your credit card number over the phone unless you made the call and the number came from a trusted source.
- Investigate – if a caller claims to represent your utility, telephone your utility to ask whether the offer you received is genuine.
- Ask yourself – by offering up this information, am I putting myself at risk?
If you have any questions about fraud protection, our rates or for a quote, don’t hesitate to contact HDF Insurance in Edmonton Central at 780-488-0921, Edmonton North at 780-437-7264, Whitecourt at 780-778-8828, or toll-free at 1-800-567-2048 today for insurance that offers you protection, security and peace of mind.