BALTIMORE — So far this month, the number of BGE scammer attempts have more than tripled compared to the same time last year.
From April 1-17 of 2019, there were 267 scammer attempts. For the same time period this year, the number of attempts jumped to 974, and people are losing more.
Last year, 28 customers paid a total of $3,845. This April, 31 customers have lost $12,364, an average of around $400 per customer.
These scammers are sophisticated. They can spoof the BGE number and make it look like the utility provider is calling, which is why BGE is urging anyone with questions or concerns to just hang up the phone and call them back at 1-800-685-0123.
"Right now, we have out entire call center, 150 plus strong, totally remote and we are available making sure we can support our customers in the best way possible," said Chima Chijioke the director of customer care at BGE.
Chijioke said these scammers are calling customers and telling them they need to pay right away using Green Dot cards, or their service will be disconnected.
These are two major red flags.
As of March 13, BGE suspended all disconnections and waived new late payment charges, and they recently extended the moratorium through at least June 1.
BGE will never call to request payment with Green Dot cards.
Before the pandemic, Chijioke said they started seeing a reduction in scam reports, and they don’t want anyone, especially those hit hard financially, to lose money to fraud.
"The partnership with WMAR and you Mallory have been hugely beneficial in trying to ensure the customers get the information that they need as it relates to scammers. We have seen a reduction in the number of customers being scammed, but the scammers consistently try, right? And in the event there’s any concern or doubt, please call us 1-800-685-0123," said Chijioke.
BGE is also warning customers to:
- 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.