By Jeff Prang
Los Angeles County Assessor
There has been a report to one of my district offices in another part of the county of a property tax scam under the guise of COVID-19. I’m going to share with you what we know, and what to do if contacted.
Here’s what we know: Unknown people have attempted to fraudulently collect a property tax payment in person at a taxpayer’s home because of COVID-19. The individuals may have presented fake identification, along with the tax bill for this specific homeowner. These individuals allegedly are claiming that the homeowner must pay their property tax in-person because the COVID-19 pandemic has closed county offices to the public.
Although this is primarily a Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector issue because the Assessor does not collect taxes, the report came into one of my district offices and I felt obliged to alert the public to the possibility of this heinous, criminal act.
In fact, the alleged victim reportedly did write a check for the exact amount for the first and second installments of the property tax bill only to place a stop-payment a few hours later when it was revealed this was a fraudulent act.
It’s important to remember that this scam has not been reported to my knowledge anywhere in the Santa Clarita Valley. The alleged act apparently took place in Rowland Heights, and we’re only aware of the one victim.
However, these are challenging times to say the least, and we felt it important to alert the media and the public to this scam.
My colleague, Treasurer and Tax Collector Keith Knox issued this prepared statement: “Please note that the County of Los Angeles Treasurer and Tax Collector does not conduct in-person visits to collect property tax payments and that any attempts to collect in-person payments are fraudulent. Should you be contacted at your home or hear about this in your neighborhood, do not make payment to the person requesting it and notify local law enforcement immediately. Be sure to provide a detailed description of the individual.”
I want to reiterate that sentiment and add that it’s important to be cautious with anybody making unsolicited offers. And please remember that appraisers sometimes will visit homes to appraise the property but our appraisers will never ask for tax payments. Never.
“This scam is sophisticated but do not fall for it,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a prepared statement. “County officials are not going to any homes to collect property tax payments – in fact, the Treasurer Tax Collector Office is not accepting is not accepting any in-person payments at this time.”
Finally, the TTC and Assessor offices are closed to the public and the TTC is not accepting in-person payments. The TTC accepts payments online, by mail, or over the telephone. For details on available property tax payment options, visit ttc.lacounty.gov. For assessor information, go to assessor.lacounty.gov.
Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang has been in office since 2014. Upon taking office, Prang implemented sweeping reforms to ensure that the strictest ethical guidelines rooted in fairness, accuracy and integrity would be adhered to in his office, which is the largest office of its kind in the nation with 1,400 employees and provides the foundation for a property tax system that generates $17 billion annually.