Tarrant taxpayers: TAD property values are out, but you can’t protest online. Here’s why

The Tarrant Appraisal District has sent property value notices, but taxpayers can’t protest them online as a ranswomware attack caused delays to the protest tool’s functionality.

Chief appraiser Joe Don Bobbitt told the Star-Telegram that TAD’s network was taken offline to contain the ransomware. He said the website and protest tool were not directly affected by the attack, but it did delay the development and configuration of the protest tool.

Bobbitt said he hopes the protest tool is working by Monday.

Chandler Crouch, a Fort Worth real estate agent who protests property values for over 35,000 clients in Tarrant County, said he has seen values rise and fall.

The market values represent the price the property would sell for as of Jan. 1. The median home price fell 1.6% in Fort Worth in January, according to the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors.

Crouch said he was not worried about the protest tool not working because he has faith in the new members of the TAD board and the new chief appraiser, who started Feb. 1.

“They’re inheriting problems and the ransomware attack and all these other issues have just created less than ideal circumstances,” Crouch said. “I think that a lot of people are giving them grace and just being patient. If we get closer to that deadline and it’s not on yet, then I think people really might start reacting in a very negative way.”

Crouch was also impressed with the appraisal district’s ability to get the letters mailed.

“My hat is off to them, I think under pressure with adverse circumstances, they have overcome and delivered value notices within 48 hours of the initial target date,” Crouch said.

Medusa, the hacking group responsible for the ransomware attack, has published data on the dark web it obtained from the attack. TAD said it has notified 300 people whose information was compromised.

Bobbitt assured those planning to protest that their information will be secure.

“We are working towards additional enhancements to further secure the website, data, and our network. We are working with experts to prioritize security going forward, and have changed internal processes to reduce the amount of personal information retained,” Bobbitt said. The protest process typically involves very little legally protected information, as protest hearings are considered public meetings.”