Utility bill scams cost people ‘significant’ amount of money in Mississauga, Brampton
Published August 4, 2023 at 11:00 am
The number of utility bill scams looking to cheat Mississauga and Brampton residents out of significant amounts of money is dramatically on the rise across the region, police warn.
In the most recent fraud, Peel Regional Police say crooks are bilking unsuspecting victims out of their cash via what’s known as a “phishing scam” in which utility customers are contacted in efforts to gain their personal information such as online passwords and credit card numbers.
Peel police fraud investigators say several recently reported incidents involved residents who received phone calls from a company called “Utility Savings Expert.”
Victims were offered up to 50 per cent off of various bills, including hydro, gas and phone bills.
The callers “deceived homeowners into sharing their personal billing account information, which they then used to make fake bill payments on the victims’ behalf,” police say. “Once trust was gained and the homeowner received bill payment confirmation, the suspect transferred a considerable amount of money into the homeowner’s bank account and immediately requested a large sum to be transferred back via e-transfers.”
In all incidents, police note, deposits and payments made by the alleged scammers were deemed non-sufficient funds by financial institutions, which resulted in a “significant financial loss for the victim.”
Police warn residents that in the wake of such scams being on the rise, any requests for money by unknown persons or companies should be treated suspiciously.
Investigators remind people of the following:
- if you receive an email, text message or phone call from someone posing as a utility representative offering to pay your bills or send you money, consider it a scam
- requests for money should be treated with caution and an appropriate amount of due diligence should be practiced
- always be cautious about sharing your personal information or account information with anyone
- scammers will “spoof” their phone numbers and provide legitimate website information to further gain trust
For more information about protecting yourself from scams, search Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and visit its website.
Anyone with information regarding this type of scam is asked to call police at 905-453-2121, ext. 3335, or Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising