Tax Scam Targets Calif. Homeowners

LOS ANGELES -- The state attorney general issued a consumer alert to California homeowners Thursday, warning of a scam by companies offering property tax relief.

"This blatant and costly scam holds out hope to homeowners that their property taxes will be reduced if they pay hundreds of dollars to a middleman to have their property re-evaluated," Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said in a statement.

The companies, which pretend to be government agencies, have sent mailers to homeowners offering property tax assessment reduction in return for hundreds of dollars in fees.

Property tax reassessment is offered for free by county tax assessors. If homeowners believe they are paying too much in property taxes due to the decline in value of their home, they should call their local tax assessor for a free reassessment, Brown said.

He advised homeowners to never pay money for a service that was not requested and to let only a local tax assessor's office conduct a property value reassessment.

Homeowners who suspect they have been taken in by fraud artists should contact the Attorney General's Office by calling 800-952-5225, or by writing to P.O. Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244.

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