If you are like me, you probably received your tax assessment letting you know that your property taxes have increased. Most municipalities mail tax assessments each spring. Scammers are often close behind.
Here is how this scheme works.
You get a letter that appears to come from a government agency with names that include “tax adjusters” or “tax reassessment.”It’s really a nongovernmental 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.
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.
Finally, some scammers use filing a property tax assessment dispute as a pretense to collect personal information.
Reputable businesses are available to help you dispute your tax assessment, but watch out for the following warning signs:
• 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
• Asks for your Social Security number or other personal information.
Scam artists look for opportunities to generate money for themselves. If they can create a sense of urgency or perceived savings for you, then they stand a much better chance of separating you from your money.
Kelvin Collins is the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia & the CSRA Inc. For questions or complaints about a company, call (800) 763-4222.