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Beware property tax scam in mail

February 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There is a consumer alert for homeowners that California Attorney General Jerry Brown calls a blatant scam. Thousands of misleading mailers are targeting homeowners with declining property values.In these tough economic times homeowners are worrying about foreclosures and being able to pay their property taxes. Now they have to worry about some companies charging them hefty fees with the promise of lowering their taxes.

When Diane Cancino of Santa Monica opened her mail recently, one letter caught her attention. It appeared to be from the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor's Office. But on closer inspection she decided it needed a closer look.

The letter is from a company called Property Tax Reassessment that looks like an official bill from the tax assessor's office.

Even L.A. County Tax Assessor Rick Auerbach got one of the letters, and he says his offices are getting thousands of calls about these mailers.

The return address for Property Tax Reassessment is a post-office box number, which is simply a mail drop at a post office on Santa Monica Blvd.

Auerbach is not sure if Property Tax Reassessment is committing a crime but the L.A. District Attorney is investigating and so is the California State Attorney General, who calls this a "blatant and costly scam."

But it may take some time to find the person or persons sending these mailers. The business address for Property Tax Reassessment is actually a house in the city of Murrieta in Riverside County, and that house is now in foreclosure and is up for sale by the bank.

If you receive one of these mailers, do not send them any money. In fact, you can go to your tax assessor and possibly lower your property tax bill yourself for free.

All counties in Southern California have an application to lower your property taxes.

Los Angeles County Assessor's Office

Orange County Assessor's Office (.PDF)

Riverside County Assessor's Office

San Bernardino Assessor's Office

Ventura County Assessor's Office


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