The New York State Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection is alerting consumers to be wary of a nationwide "jury duty" phone scam. Scammers, pretending to be law enforcement officers or court officials, contact individuals and claim that they must pay fines for failing to report for jury duty.
In many cases, when the victims of the scam inform the caller that they did not receive any information about jury duty, the caller emphasizes that it is their responsibility to appear for jury duty whether or not they received a notice. To avoid arrest, the victims are informed that they must pay a fine by credit card. In one case, a victim paid $1,000. The scammers may also coerce the victims to provide personal information, such as social security numbers and date of birth, which may be used for identity theft or fraud, in order to avoid prosecution.
As jury duty is a civic duty, victims are most likely caught off guard and may be too quick to respond with information when faced with the possibility of arrest. The scammers sometimes target immigrants, who are not familiar with the court system, or seniors who are less likely to report the crime. Remember, it is a crime to represent oneself as an official of a federal court.
If you receive such a phone call, hang up and do not provide any confidential information. Be alert to avoid identity theft and fraud.
Here are some tips to avoid this type of scam:
• Communications relating to jury duty are usually sent in writing through U.S. mail.
• If you do have phone contact with a court official, you will never be asked to share confidential information such as social security numbers or credit card numbers.
• Only give out your social security, credit card, or bank account numbers over the phone if you initiate a call to a company you know to be reputable.
For more information regarding scam prevention and mitigation, please contact the New York Department of State, Division of Consumer Protection at (518)-474-8583.