DEAR HARRY: About a year ago, I started to get notices from the city that I owed money for registration of an alarm system in 1997 and 1998.

I did indeed have an alarm system, but only starting in 1998.

I can't remember whether I paid that bill. I cannot prove payment with a canceled check, either. My bank has no records that far back.

Harry, I've never had a late payment in all my 52 years. My real-estate taxes have never been late. Nor have my utilities.

I offered to show them my records on these, but they insist that they notified me years ago and even threatened a lien (which they never got).

I never got any notices they said they sent, and they can't or won't send me proof of mailing.

I'm just an office clerk trying to stay above water, and they're pushing me down. Please help.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Yours is not the first of similar problems some readers have had.

I suggest that you visit the office of your City Council member, who can intercede for you. Be certain that he or she presents the question of whether the person responsible for these letters could prove payment.

I'm a pretty careful cat, and a conscientious record-keeper, but I can only go back about seven years.

Your City Council member can help you file an appeal if necessary. I'm virtually certain you'll win.

Email Harry Gross at, or write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107. Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.