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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 99983
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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I recently got contacted by a company saying I had unclaimed

Customer Question

I recently got contacted by a company saying I had unclaimed money. Looks like I have a property tax overpayment from 2013 that is due to expire. After reviewing my mortgage paperwork it seems my bank paid my tax assessor twice when I refinanced my home.
Now to get this money back I committed to pay 25% to the company that contacted me about the money. Had they not contacted me, my overpayment would've pass the statute of limitations.
Can I sue my mortgage company to recuperate the 25% I had to pay for this service?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note:This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

First, this may be a scam. Can you please tell me what county this is in?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Harris county, Texas. I already check with the tax collector records and I did find the overpayment for the exact amount.
Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.

Thank you.

First of all, any unclaimed property may be claimed without the help of a third party. The Harris County Tax Assessor allows one to easily request the refund without use of another company. See HERE.

Second, because there is no need to pay the third party and one would be paying at their own discretion, and because someone in your situation would essentially be getting the money back and thus "made whole," there is damage/injury.

An analogy may be this. I loan you my bike but instead of bringing it back, you leave it near my home. It is not damaged, but I have to go get it - which I do. I got the bike back without a scratch, I am "whole," there is no case. Had I needed a tow (equivalent to your third party), I can sue for the tow's cost, but I do not need it since the bike is right near me and has keys in it.

As such, this would be a weak case.

Please note: If I tell you simply what you wish to hear, this would be unfair to you. I need to be honest with you and sometimes this means providing information that is not optimal. Negative ratings are reserved for experts who are rude or for erroneous information. Please rate me on the quality of my information; do not punish me for my honesty.

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Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Do we have a legal bond with the third party company? They would not tell me where the money was from until I sign a letter (see attachment) I tried to look through unclaimed property website and it does not show up. Thanks
Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.

Can you please clarify - you have stated:

"I already check with the tax collector records and I did find the overpayment for the exact amount."

but also:

"I tried to look through unclaimed property website and it does not show up. Thanks"

So have you been able to confirm the overpayment with Harris County, or not?

Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.

Have you sent this "company" the letter/contract back?

Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.

Hello,

You have not replied, but I feel I have enough to answer the question.

1) No, there is not a strong case.

2) There is no contract with this company unless you sent in a contract to them, or that letter, signed by you.

3) The refund is available under your wife's name. You can do a search by name HERE, and then click "Outstanding Refund Check" to the left. She can send this in herself.

Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I signed the letter. This is the only way I knew about the source of the money.Had I not signed the letter from the third company I would've lost over $6000 because of the statute of limitation (3years). You sign they tell you where the money comes from. So from your example earlier is as if I had to pay "towing fees" so that they would release "my car" back to me because my car got stolen and the thief left it in the middle of the street.This just doesn't sound right that I almost lost over $6K for an error that the mortgage company made. Plus nobody contacted me about it. I still think I have a case. Do you still feel the same way?
Expert:  Ely replied 11 months ago.
Hello,
All you had to do was to run your wife's name through the record. I found the record myself very quickly this way.
Section 31.11 & 31.111 of the Texas Property Tax Code says that all refunds for overpayments, erroneous payments and duplicate payments must be requested within three years after the date of the payment or within 5 years if the governing body is shown good cause for the request.
Here, this becomes more subjective. You MAY have a case for NEGLIGENCE, but would have to show that (a) a reasonable person could not have found out about the overpayment otherwise within 3 years AND (b) this was not the fault of the government.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.

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