BGE warns customers to watch out for Covid-related scams – CBS Baltimore
BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Baltimore Gas and Electric said on Tuesday it saw an increase in reports of scammers trying to use the Covid-19 pandemic to deceive its customers.
The utility has received more than 3,200 scam complaints, with customers claiming to have lost nearly $ 59,000. Around the same time last year, it received 2,600 complaints and similar reports from customers losing over $ 38,000. Its contact center has received nearly 259,000 calls relating to billing and collection matters since January, representing a 17.3% increase in call volume over the same period last year.
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âIt is extremely important that our clients remain vigilant as these crooks are constantly changing tactics,â said Chima Chijioke, vice president of client operations at BGE. âIt is so disappointing that these scammers continue to use this time of financial uncertainty to try to deceive our clients. We also want to remind customers that disconnecting is a last resort, and we want to help anyone who might be behind on their utility bill. Any customer who experiences difficulty or difficulty paying their bill should immediately call BGE at 1-800-685-0123.
The most common fraudulent calls are robocalls asking customers to pay immediately to avoid disconnection, according to a BGE statement. Other customers have reported receiving text messages with payment requests followed by a QR code to be used for payment at a cryptocurrency machine.
BGE said it never sends a single notification to a customer within an hour of a service disruption and will never ask customers to make payments with a prepaid debit card, gift card or any other form of cryptocurrency.
Other scammers tell customers that their meter must be switched on immediately or their power will be cut, followed by requests for immediate payment via the Cashapp, Bitcoin, Zelle or Green Dot payment methods. Additionally, some crooks continue to use Caller ID âspoofingâ to replicate BGE and Exelon phone numbers. Often in these cases, a recorded message that customers usually hear has been duplicated by scammers, so when customers call the number provided by the scammer, it looks like a real business, but it is not.
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Customers can easily check their current invoice information online at My BGE Account, by downloading the BGE mobile app, or by calling 1-833-209-5245 to check their account balance. Additionally, BGE works with clients who may currently be in arrears with their utility bills. These customers should contact the company immediately at 800-685-0123.
BGE has offered the following tips and red flags that customers can look for:
Five quick tips
- BGE will never ask a customer with an overdue balance to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection;
- Customers will never get a single phone call claiming they have an hour to go offline, unless they pay immediately. If a customer has an overdue balance, they will receive multiple notifications requesting payment;
- BGE will never ask customers for information BGE already has, including preferred identification numbers, social security numbers or any other personal information;
- BGE will not call customers to offer a discount or rebate;
Trust your instincts. If a call does not appear to be from BGE, customers should hang up and immediately call BGE at 1-800-685-0123.
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- Never provide your social security number or personal information to anyone who contacts you claiming to be a public service representative or asking you to send money to anyone or entity other than your local utility provider. ;
- Always ask to see a corporate photo ID before allowing a utility worker into your home or business;
- Do not make any payment in any form – cash, check or credit – to anyone who comes to your door without first calling BGE at 1-800-685-0123;
- Any customer who believes they have been the target of a scam should immediately contact local police and BGE at 1-800-685-0123 to report the situation.