In Ontario, Canada, the province’s five largest electricity providers have come together to warn the public about ongoing utility scams concerning fake phone calls, texts and bills connected to their utility accounts.
Hydro One, Alectra Utilities, Lexicon Energy, Hydro Ottawa and Toronto Hydro all joined together to get the message out that scammers are targeting customers and threatening to turn off their power, says CTV News.
How a Customer Portal can Protect Your Users From Utility Scams.
A spokesperson with Hydro One, Whitney Brhelle, told CTV News that they always receive these reports of scams and it gets increasingly higher during parts of the year when people are busy and enjoying the season, such as holidays, vacations, and summers.
Scams involve impersonation of a local utility or its employees, threatening phone calls, texts or emails and pressure for immediate payment that come with threats to disconnect service the same day. Criminals may demand payment in prepaid debit cards, gift cards or digital currency even..
However, utility providers have emphasized that they would never call a customer without notice and threaten disconnection. Scammers are also creating fake bills that look like the real thing.
“People have been calling customers and saying you need to pay your bill immediately and they are threatened with disconnection which is something that we would never do,” Kimberly Brathwaite, spokesperson with Elexicon Energy, told CTV News.
To avoid these scams, the utilities are advising customers to never make a payment not listed on their recent bill and to ignore texts or emails with links promising refunds and not to provide personal information or details about their account.
They are also advising that customers don’t call any numbers that they are given, and instead encouraging customers to their bill or utility’s website to make sure it is the correct customer service number.
With that in mind, there are some things that electricity providers, and utility providers in general, can do to help their customers avoid scams. These include:
Communicate with Customers About What to be Aware of
As mentioned by the five electricity utility companies that partnered together in Ontario, the most common tactics of utility scams are fraudulent phone numbers, fraudulent emails and texts and even door-to-door imposters.
As a utility provider, it’s your job to make sure that customers don’t fall for these scams. A large part of that is giving customers the information they need to discern scams from legitimate utility interactions.
Engage with your customers and educate them on what they should look out for, what they should do if they suspect they’re being targeted and make sure they understand how your utility would typically contact them.
Utility providers can provide scam-prevention information on their websites, interactive voice response systems and even their social media. You could even dedicate a page on your website to educating your customers on how to minimize the risk of utility scams.
Serve Your Customers Through a Secure Customer Portal
Speaking of communicating with your customers, the best way to help your customers to avoid a scam is to centralize all utility-customer communications in one trusted platform. You can do just that with a utility customer portal.
A customer portal for utilities is a secure website or mobile application that centralizes utility-customer communication and allows users to manage their entire utility account without having to speak to a customer service agent.
Customers can use a customer portal to log into their account, update account information, make payments, customize their notifications and alerts, view and manage their utility usafe, submit service requests and much more!
A customer portal also allows utilities to roll out real-time communications to their customers, educating them on their utility usage, current outages and even scam-prevention messages through push notifications and alerts.
By centralizing all communication with your customer into one trusted and secured location, customers know exactly where to go to receive legitimate interactions and communication with their utility provider. That means they can stop worrying about phone calls and phishing emails, and instead go directly to their customer portal to see their latest utility communication.
Want to learn more about how a customer portal can help your utility mitigate the risk of scams for its customers, as well as improve the customer experience and receive a number of operational efficiencies? Get a demo of the award-winning SilverBlaze platform today.