Imagine receiving a phone call from an individual who claims to be an officer of the court with a warrant out for your arrest. Puzzled and frightened, you ask why a warrant would be issued for your arrest. The caller claims it is due to the fact that you failed to report to jury duty. One’s natural instinct is to whatever they can to clear up the situation. Knowing the you are vulnerable, the caller asks for personal identification information such as your birthdate, social security number and credit card number for “verification purposes.” At that moment, this is when you should hang up the phone. It is a scam.
Identity thieves are now tricking innocent people into revealing confidential personal information as a result of a wicked plan to threaten the caller with a warrant for their arrest. The potential damage involved with this scam is a true fraud that can steal one’s identity and put their finances into danger. It is fool proof plan for professional scammers knowing they will catch the caller off guard who will easily reveal their personal information out of fear of being arrested. With enough information, identities are stolen, bank accounts are emptied and fraudulent charges can appear on credit cards.
In addition to New York, reports of this scam have appeared in Florida, Minnesota Illinois, Oregon, California, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Hampshire. The FBI has issued a press release urging the public to not only be aware of these jury scams, but to report any incident to their local office. The reality is that if the court issues a summons for one to appear for jury duty, federal letters are mailed to alert the individual. Court officials will not call a person to inform them of their civil responsibility to appear as a juror. With that being said, if anyone tries to use the law to retrieve personal information over the phone, its safe to say that it is most likely a scam. If in doubt, do not hesitate to report suspicious phone calls to local court offices.
Protect yourself by never releasing personal information to an unsolicited caller. Check your bank statements, credit card statements and other files monthly to scan for suspicious activity. Make sure to challenge anything that may appear fraudulent so that you can be reimbursed for what was stolen. The key is being knowledgeable of what constitutes as a scam.