Beware of Company offering Reappraisal Service "for a fee"

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We can reduce your property tax by about $1,000. That's the claim that has been catching the eyes of many Californians who have reported receiving a very official looking letter from a Los Angeles based company calling itself "Property Tax Reassessment".

Many who received these notices had a first impression that they came from their local taxing authority -that is until they took a closer look. Though the letter certainly appeared to be official, it was anything but.

The company who sent out these letters were claiming they offer homeowners property reassessment services for a fee of  $179 - the same services county tax assessor offices provide for free.

The letters spurred hundreds of calls to tax assessors offices throughout the state, who are now collectively trying to get the word out to Californians that you can have your property value reassessed for free.  In a time when our home values are plummeting -many are legitimately seeking a reevaluation of their property, and scammers see this as another opportunity to hook you with their bait. If you wish to have your property value reassessed -contact the property county Tax Assessor's office in your area.

The circulating letters list the recipient's address, the property's assessed value (which is public information), and its so-called, "proposed" assessed value. That difference in their noted "proposed' value is what they hope will hook you and prompt you to call them.The letter, as most scams are, not only appeared official, but urgent. It additionally noted a  response due date and a threat that if the recipient missed the imposed deadline, a $30 late fee would be imposed.

If you look close enough at the small print, they note that the company, Property Tax Reassessment, is not a government agency and that they rather, will represent homeowners through the assessment appeals process -of course for a price.

According to a report in the Marin Independent Journal, "phone inquiries placed with the toll-free number for a regional processing center listed on the letter were fielded by people who declined to provide their names or information about the company. All questions were directed to a post office box and e-mail address that used a Web domain listed as "under construction".

Though officials claim "it's generally not a crime" for private companies to offer services that the government or other agencies offer for free -people should be aware that any company offering to reassess your property for a fee is not coming from a government agency.

It's important to note that though these "property assessment" letters are currently circulating throughout California, this scam as many others do, may migrate east to other states.  If you receive a letter appearing to be from a county taxing authority, contact your local Tax Assessor's office, by looking up the official phone number. Don't call a number provided in the received letter.

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