Warning: Property-tax scam in Baltimore County

Baltimore County police are warning that scammers are trying to trick homeowners into coughing up money by claiming they're behind on property taxes -- and threatening to send a sheriff to their door if they don't immediately mail a check.

The county will put a lien on your property if you're delinquent and include it in the annual tax sale (June 4 this year), but it's not dispatching police to collect the tab. If you get a call, police say, don't send money and don't give out personal information.

Most of the calls seem to be targeting the Essex and Dundalk areas, said Cpl. John Wachter with the county police. But he said all homeowners should be on their guard.

If anyone actually shows up at your door demanding you pay, "just call 911," he added. "And definitely do not let them in."

Police have received no complaints about door-to-door "tax collectors" -- only about telephone calls -- but they're concerned about the possibility.

"Criminals out there are always trying to think of a new way of getting money out of somebody," Wachter said.

If you want to verify whether you're up to date on your taxes, call the county's taxpayer services section at 410-887-2404. You can also look up Baltimore County property-tax bills online.

This sort of scam has popped up elsewhere in the region before. Here are links to online lookup sites elsewhere in the area, for everyone else who wants to check their bill: Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Carroll, Harford and Howard.

Got a housing tip to share? (Or just want to tell me something?) Email me at jhopkins@baltsun.com.

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