Manitoba Hydro joins Utilities United Against Scams

Photo of hacker using a laptop in a server room.

Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated in their crimes, sending fake text messages from real phone numbers, demanding payments via phishing emails and even harassing customers over the phone. Sadly, it’s a trend that’s growing across North America.

Utilities are an important part of their customers’ financial lives. Our customers trust us to safeguard their personal data. That’s why Manitoba Hydro and other companies take efforts to scam customers extremely seriously, and that’s one of the reasons we recently joined Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS).

In joining the group, we’re now part of a large group of North American utilities and associations working to stay ahead of the game as fraud schemes and scams continue to evolve. We’ve joined our clients Minnesota Power, Xcel Energy and other utilities to support efforts to educate customers about the ways they can be victimized, and protect them from losing their money and data to scammers and fraudsters.

UUAS is an alliance of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas companies, and their respective associations, that have joined together to work with regulators, law enforcement and telecommunications partners to raise awareness about scams targeting utility customers.

Since UUAS formed in 2016, its members have helped to shut down more than 2,200 toll-free numbers used by scammers against utility customers.

Chris McColm, security and investigations supervisor for Manitoba Hydro, said the need for utilities to work together has increased alongside scammers increasingly using technology to fool customers. One such scam involves the scammer falsifying their caller ID information to make it appear they’re calling from utilities like Manitoba Hydro.

“Our customers are becoming more educated about fraud, but these scammers can be very convincing,” McColm said. “Anyone can be a victim.”

It’s clear that as we move into an ever-more technologically advanced age, scams victimizing utility customers are only going to get harder to detect. That’s why utilities across North America need to band together to protect our customers and businesses, and why joining Utilities United Against Scams was a good fit for Manitoba Hydro.