Lutherville residents, suspicious of solicitors roaming Timonium neighborhoods, have started acting on police advice and reporting suspicious activities in their communities.
Police responded as recently as Wednesday evening for a call in the Charmuth and Eastridge roads area for two men with clipboards exhibiting odd behavior.
A woman driving called 911 after she says she confronted the men about why they were walking around the neighborhood. She said the men told her they were "contracted by BGE," according to an email circulating the Lutherville community.
The woman reported that neither man possessed identification or a business card and ultimately left the scene without incident.
"Officers stopped them and completed a field interview as a precaution," Lt. Robert McGraw said."Anything suspicious, call us. We'll have the situation checked out."
That particular encounter with individuals appearing to be soliciting door-to-door proved innocuous. McGraw said both men had the proper identification. However, that does not mean Lutherville-Timonium residents haven't grown weary of the issues surrounding "hucksters."
Read up on Baltimore County Huckster laws.
Lutherville-based realtor June Piper-Brandon has encountered these solicitors.
"A lot of people will be canvassing the neighborhood saying they are from BGE but in fact they are asking for copies of your utility bill under the guise of them checking for a mistake," Piper-Brandon explained in an email. "What they are doing is actually changing your utility provider from BGE to another service provider.
The company tells the people what to say and how to say it and unsuspecting homeowners are going along with it because they really do think they are from BGE and that there is a mistake in their billing," she continued.
She described a particular open house where one of these individuals became "confrontational" when Piper-Brandon refused to produce a recent utility bill.
"There are so many scammers out there and since deregulation more and more companies are competing for the same business," Piper-Brandon said.
Some may be trying to scam residents, others may actually be casing homes to break into.
BGE spokeswoman Rachel Lighty said that the public utility does employ contractors that go door-to-door and "may need to speak to a customer about work in our around or near their home."
Although all official BGE employees and contractors working for the utility carry with them at all times a photo ID and an employee ID number.
"We always encourage customers to ask to see that ID before they open the door," Lighty said. "If at any time the customer feels concerned for their safety they should absolutely call the police."
Lighty said if BGE comes knocking at your door, customers should ask to see the ID badge and/or employee ID through the window. The customer can then check the number by calling (800) 685-0123.
Lighty could not however account for third-party energy suppliers who employ individual such as the those Piper-Brandon mentioned. These suppliers have to be registered with both BGE and the Public Service Commission. If a customer who may or may not be shopping for another energy supplier feels uneasy about these solicitors, they should contact the Public Service Commission.