Local News

Mortgage Company's Mix-Up Taxing For Raleigh Couple

Posted August 26, 2003

— Like it or not we all have to pay taxes. If we do not, the consequences can be harsh. A local couple found out even if you do pay there can be problems.

Emily Haskins just happened to find her name printed in the newspaper under a list of delinquent taxpayers.

"My husband was looking through the newspaper saying, 'I wonder if we know anybody,' and low and behold, there we were," Haskins said with a laugh.

The problem is Emily and Bill Haskins paid $1,453 in taxes as part of their monthly mortgage payment to Citibank. Citibank is supposed to pay Wake County.

In March, Haskins called Citibank and a representative promised to research and take care of the problem.

In May, Haskins' employer received a letter ordering her wages be garnished.

"I was mortified. I mean absolutely mortified," Haskins said. "I knew everybody in payroll and to have something like that go through, I was so embarrassed."

Haskins called Wake County's Tax Office and faxed proof that she paid her taxes. The county immediately stopped the garnishment.

Haskins called Citibank again, and after three months, a representative said they were still "researching."

"I said, 'How long is it going to take you to complete the research for this, because this is not something that I want to deal with. This is my employer. This does not look good," she said.

After another call, Citibank found the problem. The company mistakenly used Haskin's $1,700 to pay someone elses taxes.

When Citibank tried to correct the error, a bigger problem was created. Citibank took $1,453 from the Haskins' account to pay Wake County, but never returned $1,700 they deducted to pay the wrong taxes.

When the couple could not get answers, the called Five On Your Side for help. Within a week, Citibank credited $1,700 to their account.

A company spokeswoman would not comment on why the problem took so long to resolve.

The couple is due a check from Citibank, because the mix-up forced their payment to go up when it should not have. The Haskins said they had enough, and recently refinanced their house with another mortgage company.

Wake County said before names are published in newspapers or wages are garnished, two notices are sent to the property owner. The Haskins say they never received notice. The county spokesman said that happens occasionally.

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