Today, I opened up my postal mailbox to find a very legitimate looking document claiming to be from the "Homeowner Property Tax Review Board – Tax Reduction Review Division". If you found this page as a result of doing an Internet search, let me get to the point:
DON’T DO IT. This is a private company trying to weasel $189 from you.
Have you seen this postal letter show up in your mailbox?
WHAT IS THIS?
This is similar to a ‘phishing’ operation, except it involves real postal mail instead of email. Having almost ‘bitten’ on a similar deceptively written letter before (probably by the same losers, I might add), I became wary of the document the moment it used my property’s Assessor’s ID number.
HOW DO YOU KNOW?
Searching through the text, I finally found the sentence I’d been looking for buried in the smallest font on the page:
"Homeowner Property Tax Review Board is not a government agency and this product has not been approved or endorse by any government agency."
Now the clowns – hey, let’s call them what they are – at this "Homeowner Property Tax Review Board" apparently attempted to defend their stance in the comments of another blogger’s posting on this concern in Arizona & Nevada, claiming that their letter was (get this) not meant to be deceptive:
"…we did not try to mask this as bill or a government document and the best way we felt that we could accomplish that was by putting in an outlined box on the OUTSIDE of the envelope THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT."
I’m looking at my envelope. I see no such writing on it. I took a photo of it and posted it below.
Here’s the envelope. The back is BLANK.
Do you see the phrase "This is not a government document" anywhere on the envelope?
AND THE BALONEY CONTINUES OUT OF STATE
I started searching for stuff on these guys and lo-and-behold, there’s a ton of articles about this in Arizona & Nevada. Apparently, this company didn’t try to pull this stunt off in California first but rather went after neighboring states instead. Now that they’re getting the spotlight shown on them in those states, they seem to be sliming their way through California.
Here’s a few doozies I found on the net. Read them yourself:
AG says ‘property tax review board’ info available for free
"…California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. filed suit on May 12 against Michael McConville, his brother Sean McConville, and their businesses, Property Tax Reassessment and Property Tax Adjustment Services, in San Diego County Superior Court.
According to that lawsuit, the McConville brothers billed tens of thousands of homeowners throughout California nearly $200 each for property tax reassessment services that were almost never performed and are available free of charge from local tax assessors.
Few, if any, of the assessment appeals were completed, the suit alleges. In addition, the Ventura County (Calif.) district attorney’s office has charged one of the brothers, Sean McConville, with 20 felony counts for criminal conduct stemming from his property tax reassessment operations."
Here’s another news article on it:
Suit Filed To End Property Tax Scam
‘Official-Looking Documents’ Are Bogus, He Warns
"PHOENIX — Attorney General Terry Goddard announced Friday that he has filed a lawsuit and obtained a temporary restraining order to stop the perpetrators of an alleged fraud that claimed a homeowner’s property qualified for a "property tax reduction review."
The lawsuit names Property Tax Review Board, Inc., a Granada Hill, Calif.-based company; Property Tax Review Board’s President and CEO Michael McConville, of Simi Valley, Calif., and Carmen Mercer, of Tombstone, owner of the Post Office box included in the solicitation.
"This solicitation appears to be an attempt to scam homeowners who are looking to reduce their property tax bill," Goddard said.
The solicitation, which requests a $189 processing fee, is not affiliated with any government entity, Goddard said. The document attempts to appear official and contains a “notice number” and deadline for prompt processing."
Here’s my favorite:
Property tax letters an alleged scam
"The Yuma County Assessor’s Office is warning residents about official-looking letters they may have received which claim their property qualifies for a "property tax reduction review."
County Assessor Joe Wehrle said those official-looking letters, which are being sent from Phoenix by a company calling itself the Property Tax Review Board, are fake and are nothing more than a statewide scam to rip off homeowners.
"This company is fraudulent," Wehrle said. "We do not want anyone to pay any money to these people."
Wehrle said county staff has already received numerous phone calls from homeowners Tuesday morning asking about the letters, which say a response is due by Aug. 28, 2009.
"The way the letter is written, it gives the reader the impression they are appealing their taxes, instead of their property value," Wehrle said. "You should never be charged to review your property value because homeowners can file appeals on their own for free, but they must do it on time.""
So homeowner beware. These folks are clearly deceitful and in my opinion have no interest other than separating folks looking for a tax break during this difficult economy from $189. I really hope California’s lawyers litigate these complete-and-utter douchebags back to the stone age.