LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) --
As the economy improves, property prices are rebounding -- and so are property taxes. Most municipalities mail tax assessments each spring.
In this Rip-Off Alert, the Better Business Bureau informs us that scammers are often close behind, posing as government programs that claim to lower your taxes for a fee. How the Scam Works:
You get a letter in the mail that appears to comes from a government agency. It's really a private business, and it promises to get your property taxes reduced by disputing your tax assessment. For this, the business charges from $30 to hundreds of dollars. A typical letter reads:
"The XYZ County tax authorities may have made an error when they recently assessed your property. The mistake means you may be over taxed by $2,000. ... For 10 minutes and a one-time fee of less than $100, it's well worth the potential savings of $2,000."
As always, several variations of the scam exist. Sometimes, scammers simply pocket the fee. Other times, it's more a case of misleading advertising. The businesses file the paperwork on your behalf and/or provide you with a government report. However, in most cases, the business is simply doing something homeowners can do themselves for free.
Finally, some scammers use filing a property tax assessment dispute as an pretense to collect personal information for use in identity theft. Ways to Spot a Property Assessment Scam:
Reputable businesses are available to help you dispute your tax assessment, but watch out for the following warning signs. It may be a scam if the business:
- Poses as a government agency
- Requires an upfront fee instead of billing you after the service is rendered.
- Guarantees it can lower your property assessment and/or taxes. You can file a dispute, but the local government needs to approve it.
- Requests a certified copy of your property deed and charges you more than a few dollars for it. Learn more about this scam here.
- Asks for your Social Security number or other personal information.