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Scammers looking to capitalize on confusion over how to pay Baltimore water bills

Posted: 6:15 AM, Jun 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-04 12:31:46Z
DPW reaching out to customers who received inflated water bills

BALTIMORE — Four weeks after a ransomware attack held Baltimore's government computer systems hostage, online payment portals are still down.

Scammers are looking to take advantage of the situation by demanding payment for water bills.

It’s already happened in the Hamilton area.

Baltimore City Department of Public Works said they received a report of an impostor presenting himself as a DPW employee, approaching a resident, and asking for payment of his water bill.

“We'll never demand to go inside. We'll never demand to see something. And we'll certainly never demand a payment. If that happens, by all means call the police,” said Jeffrey Raymond, chief of communications and community affairs with Baltimore City Department of Public Works.

For a month, the online water billing payment portal has been offline. Not only can you not pay, residents can’t view their bills, and they won’t come in the mail either.

“We cannot prepare or send out the bills because we're still at a point where we cannot download and make sense of that data with our computer systems, and without that, no bills,” said Raymond.

Raymond cautions that you will receive one eventually, and to be prepared for sticker shock.

“You're going to get a much bigger than one month bill,” Raymond said.

“So your message to people right now is to sit tight, wait until they hear from you?,” asked WMAR-2 News Reporter Mallory Sofastaii .

“They will hear from us. They'll definitely hear from us,” Raymond replied.

If you're concerned about being able to afford the unusually high bill, DPW said they can set up payment plans.

And if you wanted to pay ahead of time without first getting a bill, you can pay in-person at the DPW offices located at 200 Holliday St., Baltimore, Md. 21202, or by mail. Pay by check or money order what you usually owe and include your account number. You'll receive a credit on your account if you sent too much or receive a bill for the difference.

DPW said there won't be any late fees for bills dating back to May 7, 2019.

Raymond added that the loss in revenue hasn't impacted city services yet.

Reporter Mallory Sofastaii also spoke with city officials who told her they don't know when computer systems will be back online but they've slowly started restoring employee's email accounts.

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