Service Alberta is warning Albertans of telephone scams in which callers demand payment of electricity bills and income taxes.
Albertans have been receiving calls recently from individuals claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency or from Direct Energy and ENMAX, demanding payment through a credit card or online money/wire transfer services.
Canada Revenue Agency scam:
- An individual informs the recipient that they owe “back taxes” as the result of an audit and a payment must be paid immediately to avoid a fine.
- In some versions of the call, the recipient is told there is an outstanding warrant or legal action that can be avoided if the payment is made immediately, or that they’ll be deported or arrested if payment is not made right away.
- The Canada Revenue Agency will sometimes contact individuals by telephone, but never requests payments over the telephone, in any form.
Electricity retailer collection scam:
- An individual informs the recipient that their electricity account is in arrears and threatens to shut off their electricity unless payment is made with either a pre-paid credit card or online payment method such as PayPal.
- Although your energy company may ask for a credit card number over the phone as a form of payment for overdue accounts, they do not ask for numbers from pre-paid credit cards or make payment arrangements through the use of online money transfer services.
- RCMP is investigating.
Consumer Tips – What you should do
- Ask the caller for the following details, which only you and your retailer will know:Address of your account
Your payment history, including the date and amount of your last payment and how it was made
- Tell the caller you’re hanging up and calling the local number listed for your energy retailer or the Canada Revenue Agency.
Consumer Tips – What you should not do
- Do not provide any personal or financial information.
- Don’t believe your telephone’s caller ID. The caller may have altered to make it appear that the call is originating from a legitimate company.
- Don’t be swayed by deadlines and aggressive tactics the caller may use to pressure consumers.
Reporting an incident
If you’ve received a call you suspect wasn’t legitimate, you can report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or by using its online fraud reporting system at www.antifraudcentre- centreantifraude.ca/index-eng. htm
Anyone who’s sent money to the fraudulent caller should contact their local police service and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.