Update January 30, 2015: The RCMP have reports of approximately 2,000 businesses in at least seven provinces have been the target of this scam. Similar to Alberta, smaller businesses, such as independently owned restaurants, are the focus.
if you’ve been the victim of this scam, the RCMP are asking you to contact your local police and energy service provider to report the incident. You can also report any suspicious activity to the National Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. For more information about scams visit the National Anti-Fraud Centre website.
(Original post January 7, 2015) Once again we’re hearing about a scam where Albertans are picking up their phones only to be told that their electricity bill is overdue and that they must pay it right away or their power will be cut off. The scammers will even go as far as to say that they’re from ENMAX or another retailer. This is an increasingly common scam, and not surprisingly this seems to occur during cold snaps when the threat of immediate disconnection would be a greater cause for concern.
From what we know to date, these scammers are targeting businesses, but it’s not out of the question that homeowners could also be a target of this scam.
How to identify a scam
While we can’t stop these calls or the frustration and stress they cause, a little bit of information can help you avoid being a victim of these scammers – feel free to share the following with your family and friends:
- There are regulations in Alberta that prevent your power from being completely cut off to a home during the cold winter months, or any other time when the forecast is for temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius within a 24-hour period.
- Should the weather be warmer, disconnections only happen after we have sent written notification in addition to your utility bill to you on your outstanding balance.
- Disconnecting power is a last resort and will only happen after considerable effort has been made to arrive at a solution.
- We do not currently accept any payment by credit card or through PayPal.
Here’s what you can do
If you receive a suspicious phone call follow these steps:
- Do not give out any personal information including account numbers or addresses.
- Report the phone call to the Alberta Utilities Advocate by email or call them in Alberta at 310- 4-UCA (310-4822).
- If you’re concerned about your ENMAX account, sign in to your ENMAX account online and make sure your information is correct, or call our Customer Care Team at 310-2010.
- Report any suspicious activity to the National Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
- You can learn more about scams at the National Anti-Fraud Centre website.
Help if your account is behind
Situations can arise that can make it difficult to pay bills on time. That said, there are resources in place so that you can work towards getting things in order.
The Alberta Works program from the Government of Alberta helps people meet their basic needs through tough times – contact them toll-free 1-866-644-5135.
Additionally, you can visit www.ab.211.ca or dial 211 throughout Alberta. In Calgary, our community partner, The Distress Centre is available for support or provide resources. You can contact them at 403-266-HELP (4357) or by visiting their website.