The City of Waco says debit and credit card payment information for some water bills was not properly protected by the city's online payment system.
While it does not immediately appear that any information was stolen, roughly 2,500 payments made between Dec. 24 and Jan. 4 were put at risk by the lack of proper security precautions. Those residents whose information was put at risk have been notified by mail, the city said.
“There is no indication that the files in question were subject to improper use by an outside party or utilized for any illegal activity,” Waco's Director of Information Technology James Brown said in a statement. “Based on our investigation to date, it appears that the unencrypted files were stored on the city’s server but there is no indication at this time that the information was accessed or utilized by any unauthorized individuals."
The city said the issue was limited to the water bill system. The payment information has since been secured and the payments that were made were properly credited to each account, according to city officials.
Brown said the incident was under investigation, and outside security experts were brought in to help.
In the meantime, the Water Utilities Department urged customers who paid with debit or credit cards during that time period to check their statements for unauthorized charges and immediately report any issues to both their financial institution and the city's water office at 254-299-2489. At this point, the city said it did not believe it was necessary to cancel any cards unless customers see unauthorized use. Because the problem has been fixed, the city said, customers can continue making online bill payments.
“While we do not think any of the data was compromised, we are contacting our customers out of an abundance of precaution," City Manager Dale Fisseler wrote in a statement. "We regret any inconvenience or concern that this issue may be causing our customers. We are working diligently to fully investigate the source of the problem and will continue to monitor the system."
If you have any additional questions or concerns, call the City of Waco at (254) 299-2489 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also click here for more information.