City of Mesa apologizes for sending out bogus 'false alarm' bills to thousands of residents

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Alice Nelson just got a letter from the City of Mesa saying she owed $210 in fines for having false alarms on her home security system.

Mesa, like many Valley cities, fines homeowners and business owners if their security alarm goes off by mistake, and police are called out anyway.

"My first thought was you're claiming I owe you money, but you're not saying or giving me any dates," said Nelson. "You're saying you owe this much money as a result of false alarms and you have to pay up."

The letter also said that if she doesn't pay up there may be a lien on her property or money taken out of her tax refund.

The only problem: Nelson doesn't owe anything.

And neither do thousands of other Mesa residents who got "bogus" bills in the mail this week.

Word started to spread on social media.

"All of a sudden people started speaking up and said, 'Yeah, we got one, too,'" said Nelson. "'They want $110 from us.' 'They want $200 from us.' All these different amounts."

Steve Wright with the City of Mesa said there was a database error that led to roughly 12,000 "payment due" letters going out to people with false alarm issues in the past.

According to Wright, many of the notices were old repeat invoices that had already been paid.

"We identified what the issue was and put procedures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Wright. "We are human. We make mistakes and as soon as we realized there was an issue we took steps to resolve it."

The City of Mesa sent a letter Wednesday stating that anyone who received an incorrect invoice should ignore it and they're sorry for the inconvenience.

The inconvenience will cost taxpayers several thousand dollars.

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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