Baltimore, MD - Mar. 26, 2020 - Amid the growing concern in Maryland and the world surrounding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Baltimore Gas and Electric is reminding customers to be on alert for potential scams targeting utility customers.
While scams are said to occur throughout the year, BGE said it has seen an increase in scam reports over the past week with scammers attempting to use the health crisis to trick utility customers.
The company said it has received reports that scammers are offering cash or credit incentives from BGE in order to obtain a customer’s personal or financial information.
BGE said there are a number of programs in place to help customers through temporary or extended financial hardship.
BGE is also suspending service disconnections and waiving new late payment charges at least until May 1, and will be working with customers on a case-by-case basis to establish payment arrangements and identify energy assistance options.
BGE is also working with residents whose service was disconnected prior to the March 13 service disconnection moratorium to have service restored.
"It is unfortunate that scammers are using this time of health and financial uncertainty to attempt to deceive our customers,” said Tamla Olivier, senior vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “These scammers are constantly changing their tactics and it’s important that our customers stay vigilant to avoid becoming victims.”
In some cases, the recorded message that customers hear when calling a legitimate company has been duplicated by scammers, so when customers call the number provided by the scammer, it sounds like an actual business. Some scammers also use caller ID "spoofing" to replicate a utility's phone number.
Tips from BGE
Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions:
- Never provide your social security number or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a utility representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than your local utility providers.
- Always ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any utility worker into your home or business.
- Do not give payment in any form- cash, check, or credit- to anyone coming to your door.
How to protect yourself
- Utility representatives will never ask or require a customer with a past due balance to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection. Additionally, all service disconnections have been suspended through at least May 1, so any disconnection notices are likely scams.
- Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank withdrawal, mail or in person.
- While BGE is currently suspending service disconnections, under normal circumstances customers with a past due balance will receive multiple shut off notifications – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.
- If a customer ever questions the legitimacy of the call, hang up and call BGE at 800-685-0123.
- BGE already has your account information and past bills. If you are authorizing a legitimate third- party energy supplier to switch your energy supply, they will need you to disclose your electric choice ID or natural gas choice ID at the time you are authorizing to be switched to their service. If you do not intend to switch your energy supplier, do not provide your choice ID number(s) or a copy of your bill to anyone.
Any customer who believes he or she has been a target of a scam is urged to contact their local police and call BGE immediately at 800-685-0123 to report the situation.