If you’ve had a dodgy call from Hydro Ottawa recently — you’re not the only one! According to the company, hundreds of Ottawa customers have received fake calls threatening to disconnect their power. Now, real representatives are urging locals to be aware of the Hydro Ottawa scam call, and to report it if you receive one.

On Monday, Hydro Ottawa was forced to reassure hundreds of customers that their power would not be disconnected, after a string of hoax calls left Ottawans concerned.

Over the weekend, the company received more than 200 reports of suspicious calls, during which the operator would threaten to disconnect power or turn off the customer's lights.

In a statement, Hydro Ottawa reassured locals that this would not be the case, and accused scammers of taking advantage of peoples’ vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I find it revolting that malicious scammers are preying on our customers during a very anxious and vulnerable time, causing unnecessary confusion and distress,” Bryce Conrad, President and Chief Executive Officer said in the notice. 

“To be clear, there will be no disconnection of power to anyone as our city wrestles with the COVID-19 outbreak,” Conrad confirmed.

The statement acknowledged that the scams are sophisticated, before urging customers to "be vigilant."

The company asked anybody who thinks they may have been affected by a scam or hoax to reach out to them directly.

Last month, the Ontario government announced that it was extending the ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment.

This means that companies are not actually allowed to disconnect people’s power, regardless of if they’ve paid their bill or not.

The ban remains in place until at least July 31, 2020, and was implemented to help out people who have had their income affected by COVID-19.

In their notice, Hydro Ottawa confirmed that this ban applies to all of their customers, and flexible payment options are also on the table for anybody who requires them.

To combat fraudulent communication, the company has released a number of tips to help Ottawans assess whether the call is a hoax.

If you’re asked to make a payment that isn’t listed on your most recent bill, if you’re asked to provide personal information or details about your account, or are sent messages with suspicious links that promise refunds, these are all likely to be scams. 

If you’re unsure, Hydro Ottawa recommends that you hang up the phone, and contact them back directly. This way you can ensure you’re speaking to a real representative.

In March, the government warned Canadians to be aware of a number of COVID-19 related scams that are affecting the country.

A large number of these hoaxes play on people’s fears surrounding the disease, and one group of scammers even tried offering paid COVID-19 testing.

If you're unsure or suspicious, contact your company or provider directly. Never give out your personal information or bank details! 

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