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A jury duty scam is an identity theft technique where someone attempts to get a target to reveal personal information by claiming the victim is in trouble for missing a jury duty obligation. This scam is easy to avoid by refusing to release personal information over the phone, even when the caller claims to be an officer of the court. The frequency of this scam is not known, but numerous law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States are aware of the issue.
The jury duty scam starts with a phone call from someone claiming to be a court clerk, telling the victim that she missed jury duty and there is a warrant out for her arrest. Some judges may choose to exercise their power to issue a bench warrant in cases where people miss jury duty, but this is unusual. Even if a judge did issue a warrant to compel someone to show up for jury duty, the subject of the warrant would not receive a phone call about it. Officers of the court usually only call people when a trial is ongoing and they need to contact jurors to provide them with information.
The victim usually responds with panic; many people express confusion and dismay because they did not receive a summons, or just completed jury duty and don't understand how they could have been called again. The scammer says it may be possible to clear the matter up, if the victim will just provide some “verifying information” like name, birth date, Social Security number, and so forth. With information from a jury duty scam, a person can potentially commit identity theft and pose as the victim to open credit accounts and engage in other activities.
Officers of the court do not ask people for personal information of this nature, and especially not over the phone. The jury duty scam relies on the victim's ignorance and plays upon emotions to create pressure and make people feel like they need to respond immediately.
If people do receive a call from someone claiming to be an officer of the court, they should request the person's name and extension at the court and explain that they want to verify the information by calling back. People should look up the phone number for the court in the phone book rather than relying on a number given by the caller to make sure they are actually calling the court. Once the call goes through, they can request to be put through to the caller's extension. If the original call was not legitimate, it is advisable to ask to speak to a bailiff and file a complaint to make the court aware of the jury duty scam.
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