Jury duty is an important responsibility. You don’t want to miss it if you get called. I think we all have a nagging fear of missing an important piece of mail, of forgetting something official that could come back to bite us.
Unfortunately, scammers have learned to take advantage of that fear to rip consumers off and compromise personal information.
The jury duty scam begins when someone, posing as a deputy or court official, contacts the victim via telephone. The con artists will often provide names of federal judges, courtroom numbers and addresses in an attempt to make the scam believable.
They will claim you have failed to report for jury duty. The scammer then alleges there is a warrant out for your arrest. In order to avoid arrest, the person is then instructed to pay a fine with a Green Dot Moneypak Card. Green Dot MoneyPak cards are reloadable debit cards that are widely available in stores.
In other cases, the scammer asks for the victim’s confidential information for “verification” purposes. The con artist asks for the victim’s social security number, birth date, and sometimes even credit card numbers or other private information. Facing the unexpected threat of arrest, victims are caught off guard and may be quick to part with some information to defuse the situation.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin has received a lot of calls from consumers who were called by people trying to pull this scam.
Federal courts do not require anyone to provide any sensitive information in a telephone call or email according to UScourts.gov. Most contact between a federal court and a prospective juror will be through the U.S. mail, and any phone contact by real court officials will not include requests for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information.
Scams by con artists who use threatening tactics to get the victim to purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card or wire money come in varying forms so be wary of any person who demands this type of payment.
BBB offers this advice if you receive a scam call regarding jury duty:
- Protect your personal information. Don’t provide any account or other personal information. Hang up the phone.
- Protect your money. Never wire transfer money or purchase a green dot card without verifying who is on the other line. These payment forms are the most commonly used because it is cannot be traced. Green Dot MoneyPak users also need to remember that anyone they share their card number with has instant access to their funds.
- When in doubt, hang up. If you feel you may have missed jury duty, call your area County Clerk’s Office to verify if you have been summoned.
If a scammer contacted you and you already gave out your personal information, please contact the local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office and your BBB.