Is nothing sacred? Proving that there is no limit to their greed or ingenuity, fraud perpetrators have found a way to use the legal system to steal identities from unsuspecting individuals. Here is what jury duty scams look like and how you can protect yourself.
Digging for information
In a typical jury duty scam, the thief calls or emails pretending to be a local court employee and warns that you are about to be arrested because you have not reported for jury duty. If you respond that you have not been notified that you have been selected for duty, the scammer asks for personal information to ‘verify records.’
Alternatively, they tell victims they have been selected for jury duty and ask for ‘prescreening information’ before the individuals report to court. Fraudsters may threaten to levy fines against you if you refuse to provide the requested information. The information they want, of course, is your Social Security number and date of birth. In some cases, scammers claim they need bank account numbers so they can deposit jury duty checks.
Courts do not call
The truth is, courts virtually never call or email prospective jurors — even those who do not report as scheduled. Most courts rely on the U.S. postal system to communicate with jurors, including for follow-up communications. They also never ask for confidential personal information, because they do not need it.
Unfortunately, many people are caught off guard by this scam; disconcerted to learn that they may be arrested for evading jury duty, even those who ordinarily would be extremely cautious about providing personal information over the phone or via email may give the fraud perpetrators what they want.
Just hang up
If you are contacted by a jury duty scammer, hang up and notify the Court Clerk’s office at your local state or federal courthouse. For more information on preventing and detecting fraud, contact us.