CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas has teamed up with Chicago aldermen to try to protect unsuspecting property owners from having their homes sold due to non-payment of property taxes.

Pappas said the post office returned some 10,000 Chicago property tax bills to her office as un-deliverable for one reason or another. That means those homeowners haven’t received their property tax bills, and might not know to pay them.

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The treasurer said she’s given aldermen a list of names, supposed addresses, and other information by ward, in hopes they can help.

“There are 10,000 people in the city of Chicago who have not gotten their tax bills. We are giving the aldermen, by ward, how many people have not gotten their tax bills. Their names, their addresses, hopefully how to locate them,” she said.“Each of them is doing outreach to try and locate who these people are, so they can get a copy of their bill, so that they can know that they actually owe the money.”

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If those homeowners can be found, they can be taken off the county’s tax sale list.

“That means fewer people will have their properties sold,” she said.

Pappas said last year aldermen helped her find 7,000 people whose bills were returned to her office. She hopes to do that well again this year.

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If property taxes go unpaid, the county can sell the debt at auction, and the buyer can charge high interest rates to the debtor to pay it back. If the debt continues to go unpaid for two years, the tax buyer can go to court to take possession of the property.