City of Lynnwood says vendor was impacted by data breach, but customer information is safe

The City of Lynnwood said Thursday that the company that distributes printed utility statements to Lynnwood residents was impacted by a recent security and data breach, but stressed that it is not a threat to Lynnwood customers or their personal information.

The security/data breach was detected by the city’s utility billing vendor, Automatic Funds Transfer Services, Inc (AFTS) on Feb. 4, when their servers were encrypted by ransomware. In a statement released Thursday, city staff said there was no direct threat to the city’s network or customers’ personal information as a result of the breach.

The City of Lynnwood contracts with AFTS to mail printed utility statements to residents. Mailed utility bills contain the resident’s name, address and utility account number. According to city staff, Lynnwood’s information stored in the AFTS database is limited to data necessary to fulfill the printing and mailing of utility bills. Payment methods are processed by a different vendor who has not been impacted by this incident.

“We take cybersecurity and the responsibility to safeguard our customer information very seriously,” said city spokesperson Julie Moore. “Although we are confident that our City of Lynnwood customer information is safe, we wanted our customers (to) know about the security breach of one of our vendors.”

City staff suggest that customers monitor their bank accounts and credit card accounts and report any suspicious activity immediately.

Last week, Alderwood Water and Wastewater District reported it had been impacted by the same AFTS data breach. The district is the largest water and sewer district in the state of Washington, covering parts of unincorporated Snohomish County and portions of Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Brier. 

Due to the current circumstances, residents may experience a delay in receiving their utility statements. However, the city will not be imposing late fees at this time. For more information about a utility bill or account, contact the city’s utility billing staff at 425-670-5170 or by email at UB@LynnwoodWA.gov

–By Cody Sexton

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