Sunday, 16 June 2024

Official warns of property reassessment scam

LAKE COUNTY – If you see a letter arriving in your mailbox warning of your property value being overassessed, a Lake County official advises you to toss the letter in the trash.


Just this week, residents around Lake County began receiving letters from a company going by the name “Property Tax Reassessment.”


“We just got our first indication of that thing this afternoon when the phone started ringing,” Jim Campbell, Lake County's chief deputy assessor, said on Friday.


Property Tax Reassessment, which the letter says is based in Los Angeles, is not a government agency or even a recognized company, said Campbell.


“It's just strictly a scam,” he said.


Campbell said the letters began spreading around Southern California recently and have since spread north.


Press reports from around the state are warning communities to ignore the letters. In San Luis Obispo County the county assessor reportedly is planning to forward the letters to the county counsel and district attorney.


Online consumer watchdog groups also are warning that the letter is a scam.


The letters look real enough, listing the property owners' specific assessment values – which Campbell said to have been drawn from county records, which are public.

 

An example letter Lake County News obtained estimated how much property tax savings the property owner could realize if they paid $179 for reassessment services before Feb. 26. After that date, a $30 late fee is added.


“Upon receipt of your service fee, Property Tax Reassessment will thoroughly review your individual property value. If, after our review, it is determined you do not qualify for a reduction, your service fee will be immediately refunded,” the letter states.


Campbell said the services which the letter offers to property owners are done by the Lake County Assessor's Office – for free.


He said the letter has incorrect dates for the reassessment process, which already has passed for this fiscal year.


“It's just strictly a scam,” said Campbell, who called the effort to take funds from property owners through this kind of misinformation “totally immoral.”


Property Tax Reassessment has no listed physical address; in the letter it directors property owners to send checks to P.O. Box 25519 in Los Angeles, an address which at one time was reported to have belonged to ISU Insurance Services, whose Web site lists no connection with Property Tax Reassessment.


Likewise, the letter lists a phone number, 888-879-4259, which does not show up in any phone listings or reverse searches.


When Lake County News called the number, a female answered and said it was not the number for the company.


You can, however, pick up the phone and call the assessor's office at 263-2302, which Campbell urges property owners to do if they have any questions.


The bottom line, said Campbell, is that the services offered in the letter are “totally unnecessary,” and no one should pay the fees.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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