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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 2:06 pm | Fair 62º


After System Glitches, Credit Cards Accepted Again for Santa Barbara County Tax Payments

The electronic check system is still expected to be down until December

Credit cards are back as a property-tax payment option for county residents, three weeks after the county Treasurer–Tax Collector–Public Administrator’s office stopped accepting credit and debit cards following serious glitches in the payment system.

The system was previously operated by Hewlett Packard’s Electronic Data Systems, and was recently taken over by financial-services tech company Fiserv, said Harry Hagen, the county treasurer, tax collector and public administrator.

Hagen’s office stopped accepting cards on Oct. 28 when the system stopped processing collections correctly, charging cards at rates six to seven times higher than it was supposed to as Fiserv began transitioning the system over to its own shop.

The county disabled the payment system to protect taxpayers after 30 to 35 people were affected, Hagen told Noozhawk. Those people’s cases, he added, have been resolved.

The Treasurer-Tax Collector-Public Administrator’s office began processing online and telephone credit card payments on Thursday.

“The Treasurer-Tax Collector actively engaged executives at Fiserv to ensure that they established proper controls to prevent a similar incident from occurring again,” the office said in a statement to Noozhawk. “The Treasurer-Tax Collector received satisfactory assurance from Fiserv on Nov. 17 that this incident will not occur to the credit card processing system. 

“Based on that assurance and enhanced monitoring of transactions by this office, the credit card payment system was turned on.”

The office’s electronic check system, however, is still unavailable after experiencing the same problem.

After evaluating Fiserv’s new infrastructure and controls, “the Treasurer-Tax Collector has received assurances that the system will then be available on Dec. 5.”

With the first property-tax delinquency date coming up on Dec. 10, the office said, taxpayers should avoid electronic checks to remain on the safe side.

“The most widely used method of paying property tax is still mailing a physical check, and with a valid USPS postmark on or before the delinquent date, the property tax payment will be considered timely,” the statement read.

Money orders and cash paid at the counter are also acceptable forms of payment.

Meanwhile, the rest of the website, Hagen said, remains in normal working order.

The Treasurer-Tax Collector-Public Administrator has locations in Santa Barbara, at 105 E. Anapamu St., Room 109 in the County Administration Building, and in Santa Maria, at 511 E. Lakeside Pkwy in the Betteravia Government Center.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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