Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced today that his office’s Consumer Protection Division has settled with a company that charged Maryland consumers $95 to file appeals of their property tax assessment — something consumers can do themselves for free.
The settlement resolves allegations that Baltimore County-based Maryland Property Review Board LLC and its owners advertised its services by sending consumers letters designed to look as if they came from a state agency and misrepresented the amount by which it could lower consumers’ property taxes, the attorney general’s office said.
MPRB’s letters stated that they came from the “Maryland Property Review Board Office of Petitions” and that consumers could reduce their property tax bill by returning the “statement” with a $99 “filing fee.” The division also alleged that MPRB misrepresented the amount by which the company could reduce the consumers’ property tax — the company’s letters always stated that consumers could save the same amount: $1,346.00.
The settlement requires MPRB to return all payments it has collected from consumers and to pay a civil penalty of $200,000, Frosh said. Half of that amount is waived if the company complies with the other terms of the settlement. Though the company ceased operating after the division began its investigation and has indicated that it will no longer operate or provide property tax appeal services, the settlement prohibits the company from misrepresenting its affiliation with the state, misrepresenting its ability to decrease consumers’ property taxes, and misleading consumers about the services it provides, according to a news release from the attorney general’s office.
Consumers who paid $99 to MPRB and who have not already received refunds, should receive refunds by Aug. 1. For more information about the settlement, Marylanders can contact the Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6569.