INDEPENDENT NEWS

Don't Fall For A Jury Duty Scam, ID-Theft Ploy

Published: Thu 22 Nov 2007 10:27 AM
Don't Fall for Jury Duty Scam - The Verdict: Hang Up
The phone rings, you pick it up, and the caller identifies himself as an officer of the court. He says you failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest. You say you never received a notice. To clear it up, the caller says he'll need some information for "verification purposes"-your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number.
This is when you should hang up the phone. It's a scam.
Jury scams have been around for years, but have seen a resurgence in recent months. Communities in more than a dozen states have issued public warnings about cold calls from people claiming to be court officials seeking personal information. As a rule, court officers never ask for confidential information over the phone; they generally correspond with prospective jurors via mail.
The scam's bold simplicity may be what makes it so effective. Facing the unexpected threat of arrest, victims are caught off guard and may be quick to part with some information to defuse the situation.
"They get you scared first," says a special agent in the Minneapolis field office who has heard the complaints. "They get people saying, 'Oh my gosh! I'm not a criminal. What's going on?'" That's when the scammer dangles a solution-a fine, payable by credit card, that will clear up the problem.
With enough information, scammers can assume your identity and empty your bank accounts.
"It seems like a very simple scam," the agent adds. The trick is putting people on the defensive, then reeling them back in with the promise of a clean slate. "It's kind of ingenious. It's social engineering."
In recent months, communities in Florida, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, California, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Hampshire reported scams or posted warnings or press releases on their local websites. In August, the federal court system issued a warning on the scam and urged people to call their local District Court office if they receive suspicious calls. In September, the FBI issued a press release about jury scams and suggested victims also contact their local FBI field office.
In March, USA.gov, the federal government's information website, posted details about jury scams in their Frequently Asked Questions area. The site reported scores of queries on the subject from website visitors and callers seeking information.
The jury scam is a simple variation of the identity-theft ploys that have proliferated in recent years as personal information and good credit have become thieves' preferred prey, particularly on the Internet. Scammers might tap your information to make a purchase on your credit card, but could just as easily sell your information to the highest bidder on the Internet's black market.
Protecting yourself is the key: Never give out personal information when you receive an unsolicited phone call.
ENDS
More: Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives

Next in World

70% of Tonga population affected in wake of Cyclone Gita
By: Oxfam NZ
Samoas clean up after being swamped by cyclone
By: RNZ
German parties negotiate grand coalition
By: RNZ
Children and families in need after Kiribati ferry disaster
By: Joint Press Release
Further Cyclone Gita help
By: New Zealand Government
Emergency relief supplies to depart for Tonga
By: New Zealand Government
New Zealand to assist following Cyclone Gita
By: New Zealand Government
Cyclone Gita - thoughts with the Pacific, MCDEM staffer sent
By: New Zealand Government
Tropical Cyclone Gita: Tonga State of Emergency
By: Government of Tonga
Samoa assesses damage as Cyclone Gita strengthens
By: RNZ
The best thing you can do to help Tonga - send cash
By: Council for International Development
Cyclone Gita heading towards Tonga: Oxfam poised to respond
By: Oxfam
Tearfund Preparing Communities for Cyclone Gita
By: Tearfund
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media