Erie County Auditor Rick Jeffrey is warning property owners to beware of companies offering to assist with valuation appeals.
Tax Compliance Services LLC is one of several companies mailing letters to area residents saying they could be overpaying their taxes because "the county" value of their property might be in error.
"I have seen solicitations that say owners could be overpaying by thousands of dollars," Jeffrey said.
Some mailings offer what some companies term "a custom report." Charges vary.
Jeffrey said owners can do the research on their own and can file an appeal for no charge with the board of revision (BOR).
"We often advise homeowners to contact a Realtor who is active in their area for an independent option of their value as a first step," he said. "They can also review recent sales of comparable properties on our website www.erie.iviewauditor.com.
"The information is easy to access," Jeffrey said. "Why pay some out-of-town company to provide what anyone can get at no cost?" He said similar letters have been mailed to property owners in counties across the state.
Jeffrey said no one can offer a "guarantee" or a "very high likelihood" of a value reduction.
The BOR is a three-member board which includes a representative appointed by a county commissioner, the county treasurer and the auditor.
Jeffrey and his staff completed a full reappraisal in 2012. The current values became effective with the first tax bill in 2013. Owners who believe their value is inaccurate should make sure their BOR complaint forms are received by the auditor's office by 4 p.m. April 1.
Complaint forms and instructions are available from the auditor's office or may be accessed on the auditor's website at http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com.