City Of Tulsa Utility Billing System Returning To Normal After Ransomware Attack

Monday, June 28th 2021, 5:15 pm
By: News On 6, Emory Bryan

The City of Tulsa reports utility billing is almost back to normal, two months after hackers attacked city computer systems with ransomware.

The city refused to pay the ransom, and instead is working to clean and repair the affected systems.

The ransomware attack on City Hall computers didn’t disrupt service of any utilities, but briefly shut down the billing systems that handle payments. For utility customers, the disruption meant some bills were delayed, some usage was estimated, and cutoffs were put off. With systems coming back online, the city expects to return to normal billing operation within a few weeks.

Meter readers were unable to enter actual use, so water bills were estimated, and the regular bills could not be sent out for customers to pay. It came just after the city started transitioning to a new billing system that requires customers to get a new customer ID and account number. The 311 telephone system is one way to get that information, though the volume of calls is leading to long waits.

Troy Stafford, the manager for utility billing at the City, said with the new account information, which is also on mailed bills, customers “can go online, they can see everything we can see, what they were charged and their usage and even a copy of their bill.”

Though the first bills were estimated, the new cycle, with actual usage readings, will balance out the estimate, Stafford told News On 6.

He said though some bills are still running late, but the city is catching up, and now in a grace period on utility cut-offs.

“While the phone lines are still down, we're not doing late fees and turn offs. Look for that to change in the next 30 days. Once we get that phone system back up and people can call and make payments through the automated system, then we're looking at getting back to normal and the normal routine,” said Stafford.