Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Recent problem with accessing Cobb County Tax records:

Seems there have been some changes in how long citizens are allowed to use the Cobb Tax Internet site before they find that their IP address is blocked and they can't continue to look at the online tax records.

In my case, I had spent an hour going between the tax and assessors sites and when returning to the tax site I could no longer access their records.

I found that to be totally unacceptable.  Here is the results of my back and forth with various people in the Tax Office and the web service provider.  A 3rd party is an un-named 'vendor'.

Not unexpectedly the current Tax Commissioner Jackson, replied that she was pleased with the way inquiries were being handled.  

The Cobb County tax office has for years had a nose in the air attitude towards citizen inquiries.  Making them wait up to six (or more) hours to use their Internet site seems to be just fine with Ms Jackson who was the former Chief Deputy until Gail Downing abruptly resigned with 2 weeks notice and Jackson took over the office.

Past time for a change in this office.


From:  lori@sturgiswebservices.com

To:  Consumer2010@aol.com

CC:  Carla.Jackson@cobbcounty.org, Kathy.Grosse@cobbcounty.org, andy.castillo@sturgiswebservices.com, jason@sturgiswebservices.com, wshoaff@sturgiswebservices.com, wrsturgis@sturgiswebservices.com

Sent: 10/3/2016 4:56:25 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

Subj: Customer Concern re: Cobb County IP Blocking

Good Afternoon Mr. Harris,

With our new website search functionality, Sturgis now tracks access to our customers’ web sites as a security measure. We will block excessive access to our tax sites primarily to prevent site scrapers and spammers who attempt to extract data and overload our servers.  Sturgis has found that this is a common practice that happens frequently, especially on data/tax search sites. When this occurs, this activity can affect search efficiency for all web site users.  When Sturgis customer support receives the online request, we will attempt to unblock as soon as possible, normally within 15-30  minutes but the unblock can be delayed by an hour or more based on our work queue. At any time you need immediate attention,  please call us at 1-866-219-1476 and we will be glad to manually unblock your IP. We do apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

The blocking is based on record lookups and pageviews, which essentially represent 1 server access each.  Once you are blocked, unless Sturgis unblocks manually, you won’t be unblocked for approximately 6 hours. However, say you are close to the access limit but have not reached the threshold. If you stop searching at that point, your count is reset after 30 minutes. Depending upon how you are searching, my best advice is search for 30-40 properties (each record could represent 2-4 views), wait 30 minutes and then search again. I hope this methodology is helpful in searching the site. Again, if you’re on a deadline, call us and we will be glad to manually unblock.

While we receive several requests, we do not make it a practice to whitelist individual IP addresses. Sturgis is currently working on a subscription model that will give you unlimited monthly access to all of the sites we host. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.

Lori Nielsen
Customer Service & Operations Administrator
1184 Springmaid Avenue, Suite 101
Fort Mill, SC  29708


From: Consumer2010@aol.com [mailto:Consumer2010@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2016 4:30 PM
To: Lori Nielsen <lori@sturgiswebservices.com>
Cc: Carla.Jackson@cobbcounty.org; Kathy.Grosse@cobbcounty.org

Subject: Reply to: Your IP is unblocked

Yes, I can confirm  that my IP is now unblocked. 

I have also gotten your below incoming and I am sure your firms site meter would show that I did nowhere near 200 searches within 30 minutes, so right off the bat you site or the vendor's is malfunctioning. 

Just on the practical side, I did not need 200 searches and even if I did I could not possibly type/enter that many requests in 30 minutes.  I have used the Cobbtax site for about 10 years without this blocking, must be relatively new program and unneeded!

My site usage was probably spread out over an hour before my being shut out and it might have been for 50 inputs +/-, although I was back and forth to the Cobb Assessors site during this same time frame.  (This issue did not affect the Assessors site, it always worked fine and never shut me out)

Whatever is going on either with CobbTax, sturgiswebservices or this vendor, you need to stop limiting taxpayers access to this public data site.  I have wasted 4 hours this afternoon on this foolishness.  Cobbtax seems to be unaware of what is going on and I wonder if you or the vendor have permission to deny service to citizens wanting local tax information.

Between the 3 groups above I would like a comprehensive reply and assurances that such nonsense will not continue, either with me or others who use the Cobbtax.org site.

I believe this will be an interesting topic for our local newspaper.


Mr. Harris,

I apologize for your inconvenience.   Our website vendor has implemented functionality that will block your searches when you have done more than 200 within 30 minutes.  This functionality was implemented in a effort to prevent data mining.  When you receive this error, you should be provided a request form.  Please complete this request and the web vendor will unblock you from further searches. 

Thank You


In a message dated 10/3/2016 3:55:08 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, lori@sturgiswebservices.com writes:

Your IP Address has been unblocked. Thank you for your patience.
Lori Nielsen
Customer Service & Operations Administrator
1184 Springmaid Avenue, Suite 101
Fort Mill, SC  29708


Thanks for looking in!
Contact Info:

What do you think of the Cobb County Tax Assessors Office?

No comments:

Post a Comment