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Scam targets property owners in LA County

October 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles County Assessor's office is warning homeowners to be on the lookout for private companies offering huge savings in their property taxes. Officials say these companies are sending out mailings offering their services for fees of $150 or more.

"This pays the company to file a simple one-page form available at no cost on our website at http://assessor.lacounty.gov or by calling our offices. The website also provides information about decline-in-value reviews," Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach said.

Some companies are even imposing late fees if the application is received after the arbitrary deadline.

Officials want property owners to be aware that these kinds of mailers from private companies must clearly indicate that they are not a government agency and that their services are not approved or endorsed by any government agency. Failure to do so is a violation of state law.

"Many property owners assume these letters come from the county because the firms use names resembling government agencies and include parcel identification numbers. The envelopes look official and only in small print do the letters sometimes mention they are not from my department, "Auerbach said.

Auerbach went onto say there is no reason to pay for a review that has already been done for free.

Homeowners should know that their property may have been included in a review from the Assessor's Office this year. The review included hundreds of thousands of houses and condominiums bought between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2008. In some areas of the county, the review included properties bought as far back as 2000.


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