Assessor issues warning over letter

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By Martin Salazar

The San Miguel County assessor and clerk are warning the public to beware of a letter being sent out seeking $83 in exchange for the person’s property deed.

The letter — from Property Transfer Services, out of Sioux Falls, S.D. — looks like an official government bill, though in small print on the envelope the company does disclose that it is not a government agency.

County Assessor Elaine Estrada said some elderly taxpayers are mistaking the letter for an official bill that they are required to pay. The letter itself, for example, lists a “compliance response date” of Jan. 31, and it asks recipients to respond by that date.

Besides the letter being confusing to the elderly and others, Estrada said, there is no need for individuals to pay $83 for a copy of their deed or any other public document on file at the County Clerk’s Office. Anyone can walk into the that office and pay a nominal copy fee of no more than $1 per page.

“The concern was, some elderly taxpayers came in and thought, ‘Do we have to send $83, and do we have to send them a deed?’,” Estrada said.

Because of those concerns, Estrada and County Clerk Melanie Rivera issued a warning on the radio Tuesday morning.

“We advised people not to send this money in,” Estrada said. “They can get the same information for free from our offices.”

She said she reached out to law enforcement about the letter but was told the company sending it is legitimate.

Estrada said the matter came to her attention Monday morning when KFUN owner Joseph Baca was talking about it over the airwaves. A short time later, she said, two elderly people came in, one of them afraid that someone was trying to take away property the person owns.