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A New Security Concern Over Condo Tax Abatements

Frank Lovece in Legal/Financial on May 15, 2017

New York City

Condo Abatement Hell
May 15, 2017

As the world continues to reel from computer hackers’ audacious ransomware sabotage in more than 150 countries, New York City condo unit-owners have one more thing to worry about. In order to qualify for the abatement on their property tax bill, it’s now up to their property manager to prove that their condo apartment is their primary residence. And this requires revealing their Social Security number – a tempting target for computer hackers and identity thieves.

“We strongly urge managing agents to obtain Social Security numbers if the owner has one,” says a spokesperson for the Department of Finance (DOF). “Having the Social Security number associated with the abatement curtails unit-owners from getting abatements on units for which they do not qualify.”

Sounds reasonable enough. But given recent global events, some condo unit-owners are understandably reluctant to give building managers their numbers. “People are worried, even though there are federal requirements on the safe storage and transmission of Social Security numbers,” says Dennis DePaola, an executive vice president of Orsid Realty. “So on top of all these time constraints, we’ve got all this sensitive information we’ve got to keep protected to prevent identity theft.”

New Bedford Management is addressing owners’ concerns with an online submission portal that features secure file sharing, says Nathan Hurley, a financial analyst with the company. “The portal has bank-level encrypted security,” Hurley says. “Unit-owners can upload sensitive documents to verify primary residency and provide Social Security numbers.” The company also is launching an online portal through which, he says, “residents will be able to indicate if the unit is their primary residence and access the secure file sharing.”

As the fallout from the global cyberattack continues to spread, such security concerns are sure to become more acute.

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