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Portland stops Auto Pay for utility bills

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Change expected to affect about 32,000 water and sewer customers


Portland water and sewer customers can no longer pay their bills automatically with their credit cards.

The city has suspended the Auto Pay service for utility bills because the current system does not comply with new security standards adopted by the payment card industry. It includes both Visa and MasterCard.

Customers who have been using Auto Pay for their utility bills are being notified by email that future payments must be made with checks, over the phone, in person, or by automatic payments set up through their financial institutions.

"There has not been a security breach and no customer data has been compromised. We're just changing because our current system does not meet the new security standards," says Gabriel Solmer, communications director for the Portland Water Bureau, which also handles the billing for the Bureau of Environmental Services.

Solmer estimates that around 32,000 customers will be affected by the change, approximately one-sixth of the total. She says the change was ordered by the city's Bureau of Technology Services (BTS), which determined the Water Bureau's current Auto Pay system does not meet the new security standards. Solmer says BTS is now researching how to resume the service in the future.

Customers affected by the change are receiving emails with the subject line, "Important Notice About Your Utility Auto Pay Agreement."

"You will know your Auto Pay agreement has been discontinued when you no longer see the words 'DO NOT PAY' on your utility bill. Once your Auto Pay agreement has been discontinued, you will need to submit payment," the email reads in part.

The email also offers the following options for making payments:

• Pay online at www.portlandoregon.gov/utilitybill

• Mail a check to PO Box 4216, Portland, OR 97208-4216

• Call a Customer Service representative at 503-823-7770, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

• Make payment in person at 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave.

According to the email, customers can also set up automatic bill pay through there bank, credit union, or other financial institution, if it offers such a service.