SALT LAKE CITY — If you own property in the greater Salt Lake area, you might have received a letter from a California company called Property Site requesting $95 for a “property assessment profile.”
“Don’t pay it,” warned Salt Lake County Recorder Rashelle Hobbs.
Over the last three months more than 40 people have come to the Salt Lake County government building to pay the $95 fee, thinking the letter was an official government document.
“While it’s not illegal, it’s absolutely misleading and predatory,” said Leslie Reburg, Salt Lake County chief deputy recorder.
“I can assure you the recorder’s office will never mail anyone soliciting money for public information on their property,” added Hobbs.
With a large header that reads “recorded deed notice,” the letter gives a deadline to pay the fee, offers three different payment methods, and warns the homeowner that if they don’t order the assessment they could end up paying higher property taxes.
Reburg said the looming deadline conveys a sense of urgency and could trick property owners into thinking something bad could happen if they don’t pay the fee. She worries the elderly or people who speak English as a second language are particularly vulnerable.
According to Property Site, the assessment gives residents important details regarding their property like the market value, legal description, deed and square footage — things that Hobbs said are public record.
“It’s public information that we could give them for a couple of dollars,” Hobbs said. “It’s sad to think that there are people who are more vulnerable that might just be sending in the payment without calling our office.”
A customer service representative from Property Site told the Deseret News that while the information offered in the assessment is public record, property owners would save time by paying the $95 fee.
“You’d have to go through all the different departments, go through public records and research and compile your own information,” the representative said.