BC Hydro scam:
On January 5, 2015, a local restaurant owner called police to report that he had been contacted about his “BC Hydro Power “bill and the fact that it was overdue in the amount of $1482.62 and that if it was not paid in the next 30 minutes then the power to the business would be cut off. The restaurant owner called the toll free number provided and asked how he could pay this amount in which he was told that he needed to go to Safeway and purchase cash gift cards and then call them back with the information contained on the cards.
Police would like to advise that BC Hydro issued a warning back in October 2014 that they do not collect credit card or bank account information over the telephone and BC Hydro does not take payment from cash gift cards. Should anyone receive a call from someone representing BC Hydro and they doubt the authenticity of the call, they should hang up and call back BC Hydro at 1-800- BCHYDRO or 1-800-224-9376. If an account is in arrears, BC Hydro will send several notices through the mail asking for payment or use an automated dialer to remind customers to make a payment before their electricity supply is impacted. In this incident, the restaurant owner was not fooled by the scam and was fortunately not out any money in the end.
Please report all scams to the RCMP, BC Hydro and by calling the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501.
Grandson vehicle collision scam:
On January 12, 2015, a Castlegar resident received a phone call from a person stating he was his grandson in Alberta and that he got into a motor vehicle collision with a rental car, was injured and needed $1,200 dollars to pay for a lawyer. The caller indicated that a lawyer would be calling back shortly as to where to send the funds. The alleged lawyer called back and instructed how to send the money via Western Union. Unfortunately, the Castlegar resident sent the money, realizing afterwards, that this was in fact a scam.
Police would like to warn the public about this type of phone scam. This particular scam has been occurring now for several years and unfortunately still catches people off guard, they send the money in a panic, and realize they have been victim of a fraud.
Microsoft Tech Phone Scams:
Another popular scam that has made its way to Castlegar is the caller stating that they are from Microsoft and that they have identified a virus/problem with the homeowners personal computer. The caller then asks for passwords for the computer in effort of fixing it.
Microsoft has sent out advisories warning the public of tech support phone scams. Do not trust unsolicited calls and never provide personal information. Once you provide your user name and password, you have now made your computer and personal information vulnerable.
Again, if you have received any calls such as these, report the matter to Microsoft at 1-800-426-9400 as well as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center at 1-888-495-8501.