Oceanside residents warned of utility payment website breach

Posted at 3:56 PM, Aug 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-23 02:39:38-04

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) - Oceanside residents who paid their utility bills on the city's online payment website are being asked to check their bank statements following a potential data breach.

The city said during the last few days, a number of utility customers reported unauthorized charges on their credit cards used to pay their bill online. At least two of the customers said they used their credit card only to pay their utility bill and for nothing else.

Customers are able to pay their water, sewer, and trash bills through the system.

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The potential breach affects customers who made a one-time payment between July 1 and Aug. 13. It doesn't appear that any recurring payments have been jeopardized, according to the city. 

"These reports raised a concern that the City’s online payment system may have been breached," the city said on its website.

City officials said the system was immediately shut down after learning of the potential breach. Oceanside Police and a cyber security expert are currently investigating the incident.

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Oceanside said they haven't confirmed if the potential breach happened in the city's utility bill payment system.

The city recommends that anyone who used the online system during the listed dates:
  • Check their credit card account for any unauthorized charges,
  • Report any unauthorized charges, ask their bank or creditor for a new card,
  • Request a fraud alert be placed on your credit file, and
  • Request a credit check from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

The initial fraud alert stays on your credit file for three months and can be renewed for another three months afterward.

"Fraud alert" is offered as a free service by all three credit bureaus. It can be activated on your credit report for free for 90 days, after which time you renew it again, for free.

If you're active duty military, they will do it for a year, and if you've been the victim of identity theft, they'll do it for seven years.

That alert forces companies to contact you directly when a line of credit is applied for in your name. So while it will hold up instant credit card approvals, it offers an added layer of protection and peace of mind.