Fake application form costing some homeowners money

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jul 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-13 17:31:19-04

An old scheme is making its rounds once again, according to the McLennan County Appraisal District.

It involves a form that's tricking some homeowners into paying for a homestead exemption application.

Assistant Chief Appraiser Joe Bobbitt with the McLennan County Appraisal District said it's easy for people to fall for this since they resurface around this time every year when people are getting their appraisal notices.

The form going around is titled "McLennan Designation of Homestead Request" and requires people to pay a $45 application fee.

"Most people confuse a homestead designation with a homestead exemption," Bobbitt said. "I can definitely see why people fall for it."

Christie Gilliam is a realtor with Bentwood Realty in Waco. She shared a photo of the form on Facebook after nearly a dozen of her clients received it in just a few days.

"People work hard for their money and I just want them to be able to keep it," Gilliam said. "They are getting forms asking them to pay to file the homestead exemption form and that is not necessary."

Gilliam has reassured her clients that filing with the county is completely free and to throw away the forms they received. She also said those concerned about any forms that arrive at their home should call their realtor or local appraisal district. 

"All you've got to do is go the appraisal district's website, complete the form and send it in," Gilliam said. "It shouldn't cost you money to file your homestead exemption."

Bobbitt is frustrated to see these forms return once again and added that his office has already received a number of calls about it.

"A lot of people pay $45, then two years later they call us and say 'well I paid $45 and submitted the form'. We have to tell them 'you didn't send the $45 dollars to us.'"

On July 9, Texas Attorney Ken Paxton said the Consumer Protection Division of the AG's office had received more than 100 complaints from individuals who had received these forms. 

I urge anyone who has received a soliciation offering a 'designation of homestead' that they believe is deceptive to please call my officer's consumer hotline. 

The phone number to report to AG Paxton's office is 800-621-0508 or to submit here

To download the homestead exemption form for McLennan County, click here. You can also contact the McLennan County Appraisal District at 254-752-9864.

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