DA Launches Consumer Alert System

A consumer alert system launched Tuesday by District Attorney Steve Cooley spotlights a new wave of mail solicitations by firms that charge fees of $179 or more to help homeowners file property tax reassessment forms.

"To take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners in the midst of an economic crisis is not only shameful, it can be criminal," the county's top prosecutor said. "Several investigations are under way now into these types of scams."

The consumer alert warns that many of the private solicitations are formatted to look like government documents, though they come from private money-making businesses.

The alert also warns that most of the solicitations fail to clearly disclose that homeowners can easily file the form asking the county Assessor's Office to review a property's assessed value.

The form can be obtained through the assessor's website at www.assessor.lacounty.gov, and the process is free, the alert notes.

The district attorney said he used the property assessment solicitation issue as the first of a periodic series of consumer warnings that will appear on the District Attorney's website at http://da.lacounty.gov/consumeralert/.

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