Recent or known scams
Canadians are seeing an increase of fraudulent emails, text messages and phone calls as scammers try to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilities Kingston does not visit homes or business without an appointment and we do not sell natural gas, appliances or any related services door-to-door or by phone. Please contact us if you think you've been contacted by someone pretending to be from Utilities Kingston.
- Beware of callers offering in-home appointments for energy rebates, Oct. 14, 2021
- Ontario Energy Board Consumer Alert: Beware of continuing email and online rebate scams pretending to be from or endorsed by the Ontario Energy Board, Aug. 12, 2021
- Ontario Energy Board Consumer Alert: Beware of rebate scams pretending to be from or endorsed by the Ontario Energy Board, June 25, 2021
Utilities Kingston reminds customers, be aware before you sign a contract with door-to-door sales people, understand your rights at the door, and know who you’re talking with over the phone.
Did you know?
Certain products and services may no longer be offered or sold at the door as of March 1, 2018. Learn about new rules from Ontario. (Utilities Kingston does not go door-to-door to sell products or services.)
On January 1, 2017, new rules came into effect regarding energy contracts and how energy retailers deal with residential and small business consumers. The rules include banning contracting with consumers at home. Read more about retail energy contracts from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).
Protect yourself online
As more people spend time online due to the pandemic, more scammers are targeting Canadians online, including through an increasing number of phishing attempts referencing the COVID-19 virus. Phishing is the act of sending mass emails that appear to be from a legitimate source, but contain malicious attachments or links.
Malicious cyber actors and scammers are quick to take advantage of high profile events, particularly those that cause worry and concern, as is the case with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Protect yourself online:
...against malicious emails:
- Make sure the address or attachment is relevant to the content of the email.
- Make sure you know the sender of an email.
- Look for typos.
- Use anti-virus or anti-malware software on computers.
...against malicious attachments:
- Make sure that the sender’s email address has a valid username and domain name.
- Be extra cautious if the email tone is urgent.
- If you were not expecting an attachment, verify with the sender.
...against malicious websites:
- Make sure URLs are spelled correctly.
- Directly type the URL in the search bar instead of clicking a provided link.
- If you must click on a hyperlink, hover your mouse over the link to check if it directs to the right website.
Utility customers often are targets for scams at the door, over the phone and through the Internet. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to shut the door, hang up the phone, delete the email or close your Internet connection. You can always call us to confirm the truth of any sales pitch.
We frequently receive calls from concerned customers who have been approached by door-to-door sales people.
These individuals may falsely represent themselves as being associated with Utilities Kingston or Kingston Hydro in an attempt to sell energy contracts, rent water heaters, replace furnaces, sell home water filtration systems, or provide in-home energy assessments. It's important to know that, as of March 1, 2018, many of these products and services may no longer be offered or sold at the door.
Sales people may use scare tactics, such as suggesting that equipment does not meet safety regulations or that municipal treated water does not meet quality standards.
We’d like to reassure customers: Utilities Kingston follows all safety regulations and quality standards. It is still in the business of providing reliable and energy-efficient water heater rentals, but never sells them door-to-door. In addition, Kingston Hydro does conduct free in-home energy assessments, but only on an appointment basis. Our representatives and employees carry identification and customers are encouraged to ask to see it.
Customers are reminded:
- Certain products and services may no longer be offered or sold at the door as of March 1, 2018. Learn about new rules from Ontario.
Always make sure you get a business card and look at the salesperson’s ID badge first.
Ask to see their City-issued license to sell door-to-door in the City of Kingston.
Don’t share personal information (i.e., your gas or electricity bill) unless you are sure you want to sign a contract.
Carefully read the contract, disclosure statement and price comparison provided by the salesperson.
- Remember, you have the right to ask sales people to leave your property. If they don’t, then contact police.
Utilities Kingston and Kingston Hydro do not go door-to-door for sales purposes.
The Consumer Protection Act gives you special rights when you buy something in your home (e.g., at your door) that costs more than $50. For example, you have the right to cancel a contract for any reason within a 10 calendar-day cooling-off period; and a consumer contract has to include specific information about the goods or service and your rights as a consumer. If it doesn’t, you can cancel the contract within one year of entering into the agreement.
- When in doubt, give us a shout! We’re always happy to answer your questions. Please contact customer service at 613-546-0000 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday 8 AM–5 PM
Learn how to protect your rights at the door from Consumer Protection Ontario.
To get alerts on complaints against companies in your area, visit the Better Business Bureau.
New rules to protect consumers at the door
Products and services that can no longer be offered or sold at your home (unless you initiate the transaction) include furnaces, air conditioners, air cleaners, air purifiers, water heaters, water treatment devices, water purifiers, water filters, water softeners, duct cleaning services, or any good or service that performs or combines one or more of the above functions.
Businesses will be able to enter into a contract at your home if you contacted them ahead of time and invited them to your home for the purpose of buying or leasing one of the restricted products and services.
If you call for a repair, maintenance, an energy assessment, or any reason other than entering into a contract for one of these items and the business comes to your home, the business cannot enter into a new contract with you. They will only be able to leave information about the products and services they offer.
Once you have a written copy of the contract, you still have a 10-day cooling-off period to cancel a contract, for the restricted products or services, for any reason. If you sign a contract, for a restricted product and service, as a result of door-to-door marketing or due to misleading marketing materials left at your home, the contract will be considered void and you can keep the goods or services without obligation.
If someone comes to your door to sell these products and services on or after March 1, don’t be afraid to shut the door and call Consumer Protection Ontario at 1-800-889-9768.
More information is available from Ontario.ca
Four things to remember if you are approached to sign an energy contract
As of January 1, 2017, no one can sign you up for an energy contract while they are at your home. They can leave information, but are not allowed to leave a contract.
Always make sure you get a business card and look at the salesperson’s ID badge first.
Don’t share personal information (i.e. your gas or electricity bill). An energy retailer only needs this information if you decide to enter into a contract.
Energy retailers are not your utility, the government or the OEB. The OEB and Utilities Kingston do not go door to door.
Learn more about the rules an energy retailer must follow, and how they are enforced by the Ontario Energy Board. If you'd like to make a complaint against a natural gas or electricity retailer, refer to steps to make a complaint from the regulator.
Beware of callers using a 1-800 phone number and demanding immediate payment for utilities. A telephone scam has been reported by several Utilities Kingston customers, and by other utilities across Ontario.
If you receive a suspicious call:
Do not provide any personal information including Utilities Kingston or credit card account numbers.
Collect any information possible about the caller.
Contact Utilities Kingston customer service at 613-546-0000 during regular business hours, Monday-Friday 8AM–5 PM, to report the incident.
Learn more from the Electricity Distributors Association with their tips Don’t be a victim of phone fraud.
Customers are reportedly receiving phone calls from scammers claiming to be from their “utility company”. Those contacted are being threatened with having their utility services disconnected if they do not immediately provide payment. The fraudulent caller may instruct the person to send a money order in the amount they claim is outstanding. In some cases, those contacted have been asked by the scammers to make a bank deposit, send a wire transfer or purchase a retailer gift card.
Utilities Kingston customer service does not place calls from an outbound 1-800 number. Our standard procedure for lengthy overdue accounts is to provide multiple notices prior to disconnection. Utilities Kingston always hand-delivers a Final Notice to the service address prior to any disconnection. For lengthy overdue accounts, we request payments be made at City Hall, or via Paymentus, a third-party credit card payment provider. Learn more about Payment Options.
- Report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. This agency collects information on fraud and works closely with police to solve these crimes.
- If someone comes to your door to sell restricted products and services on or after March 1, 2018, don’t be afraid to shut the door and call Consumer Protection Ontario at 1-800-889-9768.
- If you receive a suspicious phone call or visit at your door from someone claiming to represent Utilities Kingston, hang up and call to let us know. A customer service representative is available Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM by calling 613-546-0000.
- If people refuse to leave your property or you become a victim of fraud through monetary loss, call Kingston Police at 613-549-4660.