7 On Your Side:Letter Targeting Homeowners About Unpaid Taxes - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

6/18/07-Smith County

7 On Your Side:Letter Targeting Homeowners About Unpaid Taxes

Its big, bold, black letters that read "urgent" could make anyone fear they haven't taken care of their responsibility.

"It made me think I hadn't paid my taxes! And I had," says Ellen Williams.

The Smith County resident and received the letter from a company named GFH Incorporated.

"To prevent further costs against your property, YOU MUST ACT IMMEDIATELY!!" the letter cries.

Right away Ellen called the Smith County Tax Assessor office to confirm her property tax payment.

"The lady that I talked to said they had gotten several call about this company. And the way it reads it says 'delinquent tax notification.' It's not if you owe money, it to me reads you owe money and that's not correct," says Ellen.

But the letter says it wants to "help you stop this" by offering a loan to clear all the taxes and penalties.

Smith County Chief Appraiser Michael Barnett says know what you're getting into when companies like this solicit you for a loan.

"When you're making the loan itself, it's only after the fact you discover that also included in the paperwork that actually provided a lien on the property to secure the loan," warns Barnett.

7 On Your Side found out GFH, Incorporated has an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau, for not answering complaints in a timely manner.

The 15 complaints were resolved. But add Ellen's complaint to the list.

"I think the more complaints the more public awareness," says Ellen.

Knowledge that doesn't cost any homeowner a dime.

Barnett says GFH, Incorporated is not affiliated with any Smith County government offices.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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