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Financial Topics & Tips

Jury Duty Scams - Financial Self Defense

 

A recent revival of the classic jury duty scam has painted the entire jury duty experience in a more sinister hue.

Here’s how it works:

The scammer calls, claiming to work for the local court and telling the victim they’ve missed their call to jury duty and that there is a warrant out for their arrest.

The victim denies having received the summons, so the scammer asks the victim for identifying information to supposedly verify that the notification was sent out. The victim willingly shares their Social Security number, date of birth or more.

Once the caller has “verified” the notification was sent, the scammer demands a payment of $1,000 or more. The scammer stresses that the fine must be paid immediately to help the victim avoid an arrest.

Once they’ve agreed to pay the fine, the victim will be sent all around town, purchasing reloadable money cards in various stores. When all the cards have been purchased, the victim is instructed to send their money to the “courthouse” so they can be free from the threat of arrest.

The victim may now be feeling relieved, but it’s the scammer who has the last laugh. Not only did they milk this victim for $1,000, they also have the victim’s personal details, making identity theft the next scandalous step.

Sadly, this scam often works. The victim tends to get flustered and anxious about their alleged pending arrest, so their fear drives them to drop their guard and mindlessly comply with whatever the caller tells them to do.

Read on to learn how to spot these scams for what they are.

Red flags

The major flaw in this scam is that it is executed over the phone; government workers prefer snail mail. On the rare occasion that a courthouse worker does call a private juror, they won’t ask for private information. There’s also no reason for a federal court to request your Social Security number. And finally, missing jury duty never leads to an arrest.

There have been instances of jury duty scams being pulled via email. In that case, the same red flags apply as above.

Protect yourself

If you’re targeted by this scam, don’t engage with the scammer. The scammers often use a fake Caller ID; if it looks like the local courthouse is calling, don’t pick up the phone. It’s unlikely that a courthouse worker is on the other end of the line.

If you already picked up and the caller starts reading you the riot act about missed jury duty, penalties and your pending arrest, hang up as quickly as you can. They may try to scare you or threaten you, but don't be afraid. If you refuse to cooperate, they will have no power over you.

Finally, if you’ve gotten hooked and find yourself being asked to share sensitive information, remember the golden rule: NEVER share your personal, identifying details over an unsafe medium.

Stop the scam

The scammers in this con are impersonating members of the federal court and have therefore committed a serious crime. If you are targeted by a jury duty scam, notify the Clerk of Court’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area and alert the FTC at ftc.gov.

Don’t let these crooks get away with their crime!