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Beware of property tax scam

Updated December 23, 2009

With property tax season upon us, the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station/Community Safety Division would like to warn residents about a property tax scam that has been gaining popularity in recent months.

The Los Angeles County Assessor’s office reports that various private companies are sending mailings to property owners offering their services to pursue a reduction in their property taxes for a hefty fee. Several Cerritos residents have received these notices. Some companies are even imposing late fees if the application is received after an arbitrary deadline. Be aware that solicitations from private companies offering to pursue a reduction in property taxes must clearly indicate that they are not a government agency and that their services are not approved or endorsed by any government agency. Failure to provide such notice is a violation of California law.

If you or someone you know receives an illegal solicitation, please contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 973-3370 or visit

Property owners may receive legal solicitations from private companies that properly identify themselves as not being government agencies. However, in 2009, the Assessor’s Office reviewed over 500,000 single family houses and condos that were purchased between July 2003 and June 2008. In some areas, earlier purchases were also assessed. There was no charge for the review.

All 500,000 owners whose homes were scheduled to be reviewed should have received a letter by the end of June notifying them of the results. Owners who disagree with the results of the review or were not included in the review may file a free Decline-In-Value application through December 31. The Decline-In-Value form is simple to complete and is readily available on-line or at one of the Assessor’s District Offices. The Assessor’s office will review the application and if a reduction is warranted, the taxable value will be reduced.

For more information, contact the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office at (888) 807-2111 or visit

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