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
BGE Media Hotline
BALTIMORE, MD (Nov. 17, 2021) – With the holiday season quickly approaching, BGE is supporting International Fraud Awareness Week and recognizing the sixth annual Utility Scam Awareness Day by reminding customers to be on the lookout for imposters using energy-related scams to steal money and personal information. This year utility companies across the country are asking customers to 'End the Call. End the Scam.'
While scams occur throughout the year, the company sees an increase in scam reports during the holiday season. Additionally, imposters are taking advantage of the economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and pressuring families and businesses who may be struggling with past-due balances.
Since January, BGE has received over 7,700 scam complaints with customers reporting losing close to $237,000 to utility scammers and imposters. This is a dramatic increase in the amount of money paid to scammers compared to the same time last year. In 2020, the company received roughly the same number of scam complaints during the same timeframe, close to 7,800, but customers reported losing around $166,000 to utility scammers, nearly $72,000 less than this year. Any success helps fuel scammers to make more attempts, so customers are urged to please be vigilant in stopping every attempt.
"Utilities United Against Scams day continues to be a very important opportunity for BGE to reach out to remind our customers to 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 health and financial uncertainty to attempt to deceive our customers. We also want to remind customers that disconnection is a last resort, and we want to help customers who may be behind. Any customer who is experiencing a hardship or difficulty with their bill should call BGE immediately at 1-800-685-0123."
Currently the most prevalent scam calls are automated "robo" calls asking customers to pay immediately in order avoid disconnection. Also, a number of customers have reported receiving text messages with payment demands followed by receiving 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 for nonpayment and will never ask customers to make payments with a pre-paid debit card, gift card, or any form of cryptocurrency.
"Customers shouldn't be fooled by payment pressure tactics," said BGE Security Manager Todd Powell. "Almost of all the victims we've heard from say the urgency of the call kept them from trusting their instincts. These types of forceful calls are never legitimate, and customers should disengage immediately and call BGE at 1-800-685-0123."
BGE customers also continue to receive calls where scammers claim the meter needs to be switched out immediately or 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. Some of these calls end with the scammers texting a barcode to the customer for immediate payment.
It is important to remind our customers that they can easily check their current bill information by going to BGE My Account online, downloading BGE's Mobile App, or by calling Paymentus to check on their account balance at 1-833-209-5245. We also encourage customers to learn more about energy assistance currently available to help meet their energy needs. BGE's Customer Care Center received nearly 442,000 calls related to billing and collections matters since January, a 19.3% increase in call volume compared to this time last year. BGE has many programs in place to help customers through temporary or extended financial hardship due to the pandemic.
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. BGE representatives will work with customers to help identify assistance programs that can supplement bill payments and can help ensure service remains on during any economic adversities.
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.
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
Red Flags for Scam Activity
As always, 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.
BGE partners with Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS), a consortium of nearly 150 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, to create customer awareness of common scams and new scam tactics being used by utility impostors. Through its work and with the help of customer reporting, UUAS has successfully helped to take nearly 12,000 toll-free numbers used by scammers against utility customers out of operation.
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.