U.S. Postal Service inspectors say the company accused of sending out fraudulent letters promising property tax reductions has agreed to stop doing so and repay those who fell for the scam.
Officials from Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection and the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau alerted Postal Service inspectors to nearly 1,000 complaints from homeowners—many in Bethesda and Potomac—who were sent the letters last month from a group called the Maryland Property Review Board.
The letters claimed to offer a way for residents to get their property tax assessment reviewed in exchange for a $99 payment.
One of the letters advised recipients that their home’s property tax bill “is approximately $1,346.00 higher than comparable homes due to changes in market conditions and the assessed valuation of your property.”
There is actually no cost for property owners in Montgomery County to petition for a tax assessment review. The Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation doesn’t send mail advising residents that they can file a petition. The actual petition review form is available on the state’s website.
Tom Ouellette, spokesperson for the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said inspectors went to the Cockeysville address of the company that sent the letters, spoke to the owners and that they agreed to sign a cease and desist order.
Ouellette said they also agreed to refund any homeowners who fell for the scam.
“Our major concern was taking care of the victims, so if they cease sending the mailings and refund any money, we’re satisfied,” Ouellette said.
Homeowners can request a refund directly from the Maryland Property Review Board, or through the county’s Office of Consumer Protection, U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Washington Division or Better Business Bureau serving Greater Maryland.