The Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the energy regulator, has seen a 77% increase in the number of reported scam calls, including illegitimate phone calls, texts, emails, fake websites, social media, in-person home visits and ads.
The OEB, the Ministry of Energy and local utilities like Centre Wellington Hydro want to get Ontarians the information they need to make informed and careful decisions.
The message to consumers: “Don’t be afraid to say no.”
The following tips will help customers to recognize and report scams:
- What to look for:
- Scams may involve messages from companies claiming to be affiliated with, or endorsed by, the OEB or government, the Save on Energy program or utilities.
- A call from someone posing to be from your utility that you did not reach out to first.
- Someone demanding payment and threatening to immediately disconnect you. Your utility will not disconnect you before first sending bill payment reminders and a disconnection notice.
- A request to pay your bill using gift cards, cash, or cryptocurrency. Utilities don’t accept these forms of payment.
- Someone contacting you offering to help you enroll in a bill payment assistance program and asking to book an appointment for a home assessment.
- To report a possible scam:
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll-free at 1-888-495-8501
- If you are concerned about any suspicious communications on social media, by email, by phone, text or door-to-door contact OEB at 1-877-632-2727 or oeb.ca/scams
- Don’t be afraid to say no:
- Energy utilities, the Ontario Energy Board, representatives from the Save on Energy program and the government do not phone, email, or text to promote energy saving programs or to offer an in-home inspection unless you reach out first.
- If you are unsure, do not provide any information, hang up and call your utility directly using the number on your utility bill. For Centre Wellington Hydro customers, call us at 519-843-2900.
- Also, know that a utility, the OEB, government and representatives from the Save On Energy program will not “cold call”. They will only respond if you reach out first.
- What you need to know and what you can do:
- Only your utility can disconnect your service. Electricity and natural gas companies will never disconnect your service without first mailing bill payment reminders and a disconnection notice. And there is an annual disconnection ban in the province between November 15 and April 30. (Customers of unit sub-meter providers are not protected by this ban).
- Speak with friends or family members who might be more vulnerable about the scams you are aware of to help protect them.
- If you suspect a scam, you can contact the Ontario Energy Board at 1-877-632-2727 (toll-free within Ontario).
- For more tips visit oeb.ca/scams