Phone scams are one of the most common fraudulent schemes in the U.S., tricking thousands of people every year. They work. And scammers know this, which is why you need to be aware of their tactics to protect yourself and your family.
The latest phone con to make headline news is the jury duty scam. Here’s how it works:
- The caller claims to work for the local court, and says that you failed to report for mandatory jury duty and there is a warrant out for your arrest.
- The victim (you) will correctly claim that they never received notification to report for jury duty. This puts you on the defensive.
- The caller will then ask for your personal identification to verify your claim. Specifically, they may ask for your Social Security number, date of birth, and sometimes credit card or bank information.
This particular type of consumer fraud seems to be making a resurgence in recent months, targeting victims in eleven states, including Tennessee. The Knox County Jury Coordinator issued a warning in response to the threat: “The Knox County Court System will NEVER call and ask you for your Social Security number, credit card numbers or other sensitive information. Do not provide this information to anyone claiming to represent the court system.”
The same holds true throughout Tennessee, and citizens statewide are being alerted to the danger. “They will ask for personal information; date of birth, social security number, and other data that facilitates identity theft,” says President of the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, Jim Winsett. “Do not contact or call the telephone number.”
The danger of this new jury duty scam is that victims are caught off guard, making them more inclined to reveal confidential information in order to prove their innocence.
“They get you scared first,” says a special agent in Minneapolis who has tackled recent scam cases. “They get people saying, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m not a criminal. What’s going on?’” Consequently, victims are much more likely to give up personal information in order to clear their name.
Federal officials are encouraging people to be on the lookout for scammers, and don’t, by any means, give an unsolicited caller personal information that can be used to steal your identity. Court officers will never ask for confidential information over the phone, so don’t get tricked or intimidated into giving out information.
If you believe you have fallen victim to one of these jury duty scams, the first thing you should do is report the incident to the police. Then, immediately contact the government department who issued the information that was stolen, as well as your bank, and inform them of the incident.
Finally, contact an anti-trust attorney who can get to work recovering damages from identity theft. Time is a significant factor in scam cases. Waiting to seek legal help will only hurt your claim.
If you have fallen victim to the jury duty scam, or any other fraudulent schemes, schedule a free consultation with a consumer fraud lawyer at Nashville’s Gilreath Law.