BALTIMORE COUNTY, MD — Scammers are pretending to be from utilities companies, using a number in one case that corresponds to the Baltimore County Police Department.
BGE reported it had seen an uptick in scam complaints last month, with 1,500 filed by Sept. 29. In September, BGE customers lost more than $25,000 to scammers and imposters, according to the utility company.
If people have questions about their utility bills, Baltimore County police advise using the phone number on their utility bill or the provider’s website.
Those who think they have been scammed can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
BGE: What Scammers Sound Like
According to BGE, the most common scam its customers were reporting were robocalls in which they were asked to press “1” to hear about their bills and make payments. Next, a live person would get on the phone and demand payment or personal information.
In other scams, BGE reported the imposters were claiming people’s meters needed to be switched or their power would be turned off. Then the scammer demanded immediate payment using Cashapp, Bitcoin, Zelle or Green Dot. Some ended with scammers texting a barcode for immediate payment.
“These scammers are constantly changing their tactics and it’s important that we remind our customers to stay vigilant to avoid becoming victims,” Tamla Olivier, senior vice president of customer operations and chief customer officer for BGE, said in a statement.
“It is so disheartening that these scammers are continuing to use this time of health and financial uncertainty to attempt to deceive our customers,” Olivier said.
Help For BGE Customers
BGE offers assistance programs to help customers through temporary or extended financial hardship due to the pandemic. BGE Customer Care representatives are available at 1-800-685-0123.
There are red flags that can alert people who are targeted by scammers that they are not really hearing from BGE.
The utility company says it will never do the following:
- Ask a customer with a past-due balance to buy a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
- Give one hour before disconnection unless immediate payment is received.
- Ask for Social Security numbers.
- Call with discounts or rebates.
- Ask for a copy of the customer’s utility bill.
If people come to the door, BGE says customers should ask to see a company photo ID before allowing any utility worker into the home or business. They should also not give payment in any form (cash, check or credit) to a person without first calling BGE at 1-800-685-0123.
BGE encourages people who believe they have been targeted by scammers to call their local police department and report the situation to BGE at 800-685-0123.