Many of us homeowners received solicitations in the mail last month from "Property Tax Reassessment." These looked like "official" documents from the assessor's office although the return address was a PO Box in Los Angeles. Initially it appeared that I needed to respond with a $171 processing fee to reduce my property taxes by $1,973 per year. And pay a $67 late fee if not returned by 9/5/08.
It didn't seem right. I read the form more carefully and soon realized this was a very cleverly and carefully worded advertisement. I did some searching and discovered the Ventura County Assessor's Office issued a "Scam Alert" for these types of solicitations and there was also a Ventura County Star article on the issue a few weeks ago.
They were offering a service to file a form to claim your property value has declined below its Prop 13 value. It costs you nothing to do so yourself (visit the Assessor's Office website above for more info).
The Assessor's office does its own reassessment of local properties and sent out 30,000 decline in value notices this summer. The office goes on to say that most houses purchased before 2004 have not declined in value below Prop 13 increases (which are limited to 2% per year).
I carefully read the front and back of the solicitation. Nowhere does it "guarantee" you a tax reduction. (They can't of course.) So don't get ripped off! If it looks too good to be true, do some research!
Let Conejo Joe know if you come across more scams like this so we can all stay aware!