There are few people in our great country that look forward to jury duty. Most of us dread it, but drag ourselves to the court house anyway, and some avoid by means of any excuse. Unfortunately for those who take either approach, an old scam with a new ferocity is targeted at you.
You answer your phone, surprised to find someone of the other end who claims to be an officer of the court. You haven’t appeared for mandated jury duty, and have a warrant out for your arrest. You protest and claim that you never received a summons. An easy fix, says the caller, just clear up this mix up by handing over your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number too.
Stop. Before you give away your personal information, consider this: Court officials rarely cold call prospective jurors, and never ask for personal information over the phone. Most officials prefer to communicate via mail. You have just narrowly avoiding a scam that is brilliantly effective in its utter simplicity.
The F.B.I relates the success of the scam to targeting good people who are law-abiding. In an F.B.I released article, a special agent explains that most citizens who receive one of these phone calls are put on the defensive immediately, and then lured into the con-artist’s trap with the promise of a clean slate. The scam preys on upright people who fear a marred record.
The jury duty swindle has affected 11 states in the last few months, including Florida, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, California and Arizona, and is considered by the F.B.I to be a threat to all communities, even those who haven’t had reports surface yet. Officials expect this con to pick up speed, but are trying to thwart the efforts of the scammers by spreading the word. If you receive a suspicious call, the F.B.I recommends calling your local F.B.I office to report the incident.
Remember, that, above all, protecting your personal information is the goal. Given enough information, these con-artists can assume your identity, and empty your bank accounts as well as running up credit cards charges in your name.
For more information about keeping your private information safe, take a look at this BBB article about how to avoid identity theft, or call the San Diego BBB at (858) 637-6199.