BC Hydro says it is coming off a record year for scam attempts against its customers, and Nanaimo is among the cities most targeted.
In a report Friday morning, BC Hydro says fraudsters posing as employees of the company were 50 per cent more successful in their attempts to steal money in 2018 compared to the year before, taking nearly $45,000.
Victims were contacted by phone, email or text and were threatened with immediate disconnection if a payment is not received.
— BC Hydro (@bchydro) January 18, 2019
Nanaimo, Vancouver, Surrey, Vernon, Burnaby and Richmond were the most targeted cities, but BC Hydro says reports of fraudulent activity was provincewide.
BC Hydro says the fraudsters ask customers to buy pre-paid cash or credit cards or deposit money into a bitcoin ATM to avoid disconnection, which allowed them to get credit card information and bitcoin currency.
Hydro says scams gained momentum in 2014 and of the nearly 6,00 reports of customers being contacted by scammers, more than 2,000 of those were in 2018, the highest recorded in one year.
Hydro says although the number of reported scam attempts is significant, it is likely lower than the actual scale of the problem as they believe most scams, attempted or successful, are not reported.
The crown corporation reminds residents it will never collect credit card or bank information by phone, email or text and if an account is in arrears, BC Hydro will send several notices by mail reminding customers to make a payment.
BC Hydro also says to give them a call immediately if a customer doubts the authenticity of the call.