The Barrie Police Service Fraud Unit has received reports recently from businesses in the Barrie area reporting that they have been targeted by fraudsters claiming to be from Alectra Utilities.
The caller claims that they are from Alectra and that the victim’s hydro service will be cut off within an hour if immediate payment is not provided. This scam seems to have been targeting mostly businesses and has unfortunately been successful in obtaining some money through bitcoin which was deposited in a local bitcoin machine.
Investigators remind everyone that if you receive a call claiming you owe money, to contact your utility or other service provider directly at their known number, which can usually be found on your most recent bill. Never pay any utility company with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, as this isn’t a common practice.
Fraudsters are trying new and different ways to scam the public, but there are a few common signs to help determine if a call or email is a scam.
A sense of urgency
The scam may be encouraging you to take up the offer before time runs out, or it may be threatening you with a negative action if you don’t act quickly enough. No matter how pressured you feel, there is always time to reach out for confirmation. No reputable company will penalize you for taking time to verify their claims.
Asking for personal information
Just because someone who has reached out to you has some personal information about you, doesn’t mean you have to confirm any additional information. If they claim to be from a known organization, reach out to that organization separately and confirm they were trying to contact you.
It sounds too good to be true
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Investment opportunities, online romances, high-paying job offers may all be exciting to receive but talk to trusted friends and family members, and do some research before jumping in.
If you have encountered a fraud attempt, but have not lost any money or personal information, please report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. If you have lost money through fraud, contact the Barrie Police Service Fraud Unit at 705-725-7025 or report online at https://www.barriepolice.ca/services/citizens-online-reporting/.
More information is also available on Alectra’s website: https://alectrautilities.com/scams-fraud