Wichita Falls Utility Bill Text Message Not a Scam After All [UPDATED]
UPDATE (7/13/2016 3:11 PM): The Wichita Falls Utility Billing Department and WFPD have said that the text messages asking residents to pay their utility account balance are NOT a scam after all.
Gary Capron, a supervisor at the Wichita Falls Utility Billing Office, told us in a phone interview that the text messages did not come from them, but were inadvertently sent by AdComp, the company that operates the utilities payment kiosk in Wichita Falls.
The city utility billing office was unaware that the texts went out from AdComp which is why they issued the initial statement that the texts may be a scam. "Maybe we erred on the side of caution," Capron said, "but we wanted to let people know that these text messages did not come from the utility billing department."
Capron says they discovered the texts were sent out by the kiosk company after noticing the link in the text messages included "adcomp.us" in it, so he called them to see what was going on.
According to AdComp, a recent upgrade to the payment kiosk at the municipal auditorium in Wichita Falls is allowing customers to voluntarily enter their phone number. The stored numbers are used for a new texting feature that has not been released yet that will send customers a text when their account is past due.
AdComp told the city utility billing office that at around 10:00 am this morning, one of their technicians accidentally activated the feature in test mode, which sent out the messages seen above to approximately 600 city utility customers in Wichita Falls.
Capron says the texting feature is something the utility billing office may look at using in the future, but it is not active at this time.
The Wichita Falls Utility Billing Office and AdComp assured us that everyone's information is safe and people who received the message may ignore it.
People of Wichita Falls should be cautious of a new scam involving text messages about utility service bills.
We were informed that some people in the city have recently received text messages like the one above saying they needed to pay their utility bills and to click on a link to pay online.
If you click the link, you are taken to a site that looks very official. It has the City of Wichita Falls logo and the persons info to pay the bill. It will then ask for your credit card info.
The problem is, the city does not send out text messages about past due bills. The fake website could be used to steal your credit card information.
The city of Wichita Falls does offer numerous ways to pay your utility bills. They introduced their drive through payment kiosk two years ago. They also take payments by phone, in person, by mail, and at their after hours drop box locations.
Payments can be payed online, but only through the WichitaFallsTX.Gov website. If you are sent to a link besides the official city site, you could be at risk for a scam.
The Wichita Falls Police Department posted this message on Facebook about the scam:
If you have received one of these text or think that you may have had your information compromised by this website, please contact the WFPD to file a report. You can call them at (940) 720-5000 or online at WFPDNow.org.