When adverse weather affects our service area, BGE is prepared. If you experience a power outage or need to report a downed wire, please call 877.778.2222. BGE asks all customers, including those with smart meters, to report their outage. Outages may also be reported online, by texting OUT to MYBGE (69243), and via BGE’s free mobile app available today at the Apple Store or GooglePlay. BGE crews work as safely and quickly as possible to restore power.
For Immediate Release
BALTIMORE (June 1, 2021) – As Maryland residents continue to be economically challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, BGE reminds customers to be on alert for potential scams targeting utility customers. While scams occur all year long, the company has seen an increase in reports of scammers attempting to use the current health crisis to trick our customers.
Since January, BGE has received over 3,200 scam complaints with customers reported losing close to $59,000 to utility scammers and imposters. This is a dramatic increase compared to the same time last year when the company received 2,600 scam complaints and customers reported losing over $38,000 to utility scammers. Unfortunately, this increase comes at a time when more customers are vulnerable to falling for these scams. Our contact center has received 258,143 calls related to billing and collections matters since January, a 17.3% increase in call volume compared to the same period a year ago.
"It is extremely important that our customers stay vigilant because these scammers are constantly changing their tactics," said Chima Chijioke, vice president of customer operations for BGE. "It is so disappointing that these scammers continue to use this time of financial uncertainty to try and deceive our customers. We also want to remind customers that disconnection is a last resort, and we want to help anyone who may be behind in their utility bill. Any customer who is experiencing a hardship or difficulty paying their bill should call BGE immediately at 1-800-685-0123."
Currently, the most prevalent scam calls are robo-calls asking customers to pay immediately to avoid disconnection. Also, a number of customers have reported receiving text messages with payment demands that are followed by a QR code to be used for payment at a cryptocurrency machine. As a reminder, BGE will never send a single notification to a customer within one hour of a service interruption and will never ask customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card, or any form of cryptocurrency.
BGE also continues to see calls where scammers claim, "Your meter needs to be switched out immediately or your power will be turned off." These claims are followed by a demand for immediate payment that includes Cashapp, Bitcoin, Zelle or Green Dot payment methods. Also, some scammers are continuing to use caller ID "spoofing" to replicate BGE and Exelon phone numbers. Often in these cases, a recorded message that customers typically hear has been duplicated by scammers, so when customers call the number provided by the scammer, it sounds like an actual business—but it is not.
Customers can easily check their current bill information online at BGE My Account, by downloading BGE's Mobile App, or by calling 1-833-209-5245 to check on their account balance. Additionally, BGE is working with customers who may be currently in arrears with their utility bill. Those customers should contact the company immediately at 800-685-0123.
Here are some tips and red flags that customers should look out for to prevent them from becoming victims of utility scammers.
Five Quick Tips
Any customer who believes he or she has been a target of a scam should contact local police and BGE immediately at 800-685-0123 to report the situation.
BGE is Maryland's largest natural gas and electric utility, providing safe and reliable energy delivery to more than 1.3 million electric customers and more than 680,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company was founded in 1816 as the nation's first gas utility and remains headquartered in Baltimore City to this day. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation's leading competitive energy provider. Engage with the latest BGE stories on bgenow.com and connect with BGE on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.