West Frankfort Water Department Hacked

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By Hilary LeHew
By Benjy Jeffords

WEST FRANKFORT -- There's some concern about the security of customer information at the West Frankfort Water Department after a woman's credit card was compromised. However, the police chief says the hacking occurred off-site and the department's data is safe. 

You probably don't think twice when paying your water bill, but a couple weeks ago, Laura Cogdill of West Frankfort did.
 
"I don't know what information got out, I don't know where it went, I don't know how it got out," she insisted.
 
On Feb. 6 and Feb. 9, Cogdill says two unauthorized charges appeared on her credit card statement. When she called her bank, they told her the charges were from Intelius which is a people search engine. She says she immediately contacted the website.
 
"They said that two people searches have been done, two separate searches of, I guess, four people," Codgill said. "They wouldn't tell me who was searched to give me any idea. I said, 'How was it done?' They said the internet. I said, 'I don't have the internet.'" 
 
Cogdill says Intelius wouldn't give her any more information, but they did give her the IP address. She says that information led her to the West Frankfort Water Department.
 
"They'll use that search engine to get recent data on that individual," explained West Frankfort Police Chief Shawn Talluto.
 
Talluto says the water department uses Intelius to track down people who default on their bill or move and leave a balance. He insists it's not connected to credit card information.
 
"If someone comes in and pays their water bill by credit card, that information is kept within the city, and it's confined there," he explained. "We do not use that for any other purpose."
 
In this case, Talluto insists Cogdill wasn't the only victim. He says the water department was targeted, too.
 
"Someone was able to get on to their website and took this woman's credit card and tried to take money from the city and put it on her credit card," said Talluto.
    
It's still unclear how thieves were able to obtain the bank information or how it's all connected to the water department. Investigators believe hackers may have used the website to infiltrate the water department's computer.
 
The West Frankfort Police Department served Intelius with a subpoena Wednesday and hopes to pursue charges.
 
"I'd like to get it cleared up so I can use credit without being fearful of having something happen," Talluto said.
    
The West Frankfort Water Department no longer uses Intelius. News 3 contacted Intelius who told us their site is secure and cannot be hacked.
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