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Hydro scam using local utilities

The Oshawa Public Utilities Corporation is alerting residents of a scam involving emails regarding hydro bill refunds.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

A new scam is using local electrical utilities as cover in order to try and solicit personal information under the guise of a refund.

According to a release from the Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation (OPUC), they have received a pair of complaints from local residents who were sent emails noting they had received a refund on their hydro bills.

The OPUC is alerting residents that if they see the subject line “Email Interact Refund Hydro Bill Payment Notice,” not to open the email or click on any links it contains.

“We haven’t actually implemented refunds in quite some time, but generally, if there’s a refund situation, it’s going to go right onto your account,” says Sheila Risorto, a marketing and communications analyst with the OPUC. “It definitely would not be anything we do through refund or text.”

This also isn’t the first time the OPUC has seen this type of scam, as they tend to surface in waves throughout the summer months.

“Utilities tend to be something that people trust so they try to mask themselves as the local utility saying, ‘hey, we have a refund for you, give us your information,” Risorto says. “It does surface every so often.”

The scams also come in different forms, whether it’s through phishing emails, which direct you to fake or hoax websites and request personal information, or smishing messages, which send fraudulent messages to mobile phones, of even vishing, which uses telephone communications in combination with an email to take money from people.

“Anytime we get alerted to anything like that we like to get a notice out right away,” Risorto says.

For that reason, in the event any OPUC customers come across such messages, they are informed to check the OPUC website for further information, or contact the OPUC at 905-723-4623, or by email at contactus@opuc.on.ca.

Further resources and information regarding fraud schemes can be found on the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

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