Assessor Larry Stone is warning homeowners of a recent deceptive mailer from a private company designed to look like an official government document. The solicitation comes from a misleadingly named company, “Local Property Office,” and offers to provide a copy of a property owner’s deed and assessment information for $89. Assessment information is free for homeowners at www.sccassessor.org and deeds are available online for as little as $6 from the County Recorder’s Office.
“It’s simply outrageous,” said Stone, “No homeowner should pay $89 for assessment information that is available for free on the Assessor’s website.”
The Assessor noted that property owners were mailed their official Annual Notification Letter on June 29. This notice was mailed to 490,146 property owners and provides each property’s 2018-2019 assessed value. The notice serves as the basis for the property tax bill mailed in the fall.
“Don’t be confused,” said Stone. “Letters from the Assessor’s Office have the County Seal and never demand payment.”
Property owners who question the assessed value printed on their notice are encouraged to take advantage of the Assessor’s free “online tool,” available 24/7, enabling property owners to review the sale of comparable properties the Assessor uses to determine their assessment. An interactive service modeled after online banking, the Opt-In Tool, allows taxpayers to securely receive assessment notices, in addition to interacting with the Assessor’s Office electronically rather than by mail, telephone or in person. To access the data, a property owner must have a user name and password, or the PIN listed in the annual assessment notice.
In addition, copies of the Official Deed are available for $6 online from the County Recorder. The County Recorder offers a variety of services and information online, by mail or at their office.
“Property owners should never pay an outrageous fee to a third party when the information is readily available for free or for a nominal charge from the County,” said Stone.
“Throughout California and the nation, these hucksters have preyed on trusting homeowners and have been the subject of consumer alerts. My bottom line to homeowners, never pay a third party for a service the government makes available for free or for a nominal fee,” said Stone.
If homeowners have questions, they are encouraged to contact the Assessor’s Public Service Desk through our website at https://www.sccassessor.org/index.php/about-us/about-our-accessor/email-the-assessor-s-office, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 408-299-5500.