BGE joins national effort to prevent utility scammers

| November 20, 2016

BGE-LogoBGE has joined forces with electric and natural gas utility companies across the United States and Canada to help protect customers from the long-running scams targeting customers of utility service providers.  BGE and the other Exelon utilities, Atlantic City Electric, ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO and Pepco are committed to educating customers and putting a stop to scamming.                                                                                              

The collaborating energy companies have designated Nov. 16 as “Utilities United Against Scams Day.” This day will be supported by a week-long campaign with content focused on exposing the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers, and how customers can protect themselves. The joint effort, which includes utility member organizations such as Edison Electric Institute and American Gas Association, encourages utilities to share these messages to help guard against scam activity.

“BGE is proud to join utilities across the country to partner in this important effort against scamming,” said Rob Biagiotti, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE.  “We want to remind our customers that there may be occasions when BGE may need to call or visit homes or businesses for emergencies or to inspect or install equipment, but these situations can always be verified by calling BGE at 800.685.0123.” 

When being scammed, a customer typically receives an unsolicited phone call from an individual who falsely claims to be a utility representative. The scammer warns that the customer’s service will be shut off if the customer fails to make a payment – usually within a short timeframe through a prepaid debit card.

Scammers have even duplicated the upfront Interactive Voice Response system of some utilities, so when customers call the number provided by the scammer, it sounds like a legitimate business. Some of these scammers also use caller ID spoofing to replicate a utility’s phone number.

Red flags for scam activity

  • The scammer often becomes angry and tells a customer his or her account is past due and service will be shut off if a large payment isn’t made – usually within less than an hour.
  • The scammer instructs the customer to purchase a prepaid debit or credit card – widely available at most retail stores – then call him or her back to supposedly make a payment.
  • The scammer asks the customer for the prepaid card’s receipt number and PIN number, which grants instant access to the funds loaded to the card.

How to protect yourself

  • Utility representatives will never ask or require a customer with a past due balance to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection.
  • Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank withdrawal, mail or in person.
  • Customers with a past due balance will receive multiple shut off notifications – never a single notification one hour before disconnection.

Don’t Get Scammed: Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions:

  • Never provide social security numbers 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.
  • When in doubt, check it out. Be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any doubts, ask to see a company photo ID.
  • Never make payment for services to anyone coming to the door.

Any BGE 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.

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