Jury duty is a notice most consumers aren’t anxiously awaiting to land in their mailboxes.
However, a new scam that’s cropped up in Oregon and Hawaii may have many consumers double-checking their records.
So far, the scam has reached Oregon and Hawaii. The Oregon Judicial Department released a statement regarding a new scam that’s been targeting residents across the state. The scams are coming via texts, phone calls, and emails, with threats of jail time, fines, or prosecution for failing to show up to serve on a jury.
Consumers could lose thousands of dollars
A woman in Portland shared her story of the jury duty scam with KGW8 News, a story that involves the loss of $2,000 to the scammer.
She explained that she had received several calls from the same number, which later turned out to be a scammer, and after a few calls in a row, she answered.
The person on the other end posed as law enforcement – providing a fake badge number – and was able to recite her full name and address to her over the phone. This “agent” was calling because she had failed to respond to several jury duty summonses, and if she didn’t act quickly, she’d have to report to court.
To avoid having this burden, the woman did as the “agent” told her and sent sums of money that totaled $2,000 over Zelle. Though she hadn’t used the app before, she felt confident this was a legitimate transaction because she had seen ads for Zelle on her banking app. It wasn’t until thousands of dollars were gone that she realized she had been scammed.
A similar situation happened to Paul Fox of Makiki, Hawaii. He also received a phone call from “law enforcement” who told him he owed $90,000 for an outstanding bench warrant after not reporting for jury duty.
While Fox said the caller sounded legitimate, he was alerted by suspicious behavior after the caller asked for his credit card as a form of ID. Fox called the local authorities to report the phone call before sending any money to the scammer.
This scam has taken on similar forms with text messages or emails, all claiming that the recipient has neglected summonses for jury duty. Scammers are either looking for personal information or outright asking for money – usually from prepaid debit or gift cards, and there is always an extreme sense of urgency with detrimental repercussions if the request is ignored.
Never share personal details over the phone
The Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) explained something very important that consumers need to keep in mind: state and federal courts will never ask for personal information over the phone, by email, or through text.
While some jury reminders may come through text, there will never be demands for money or requests for confidential information through these channels.
The OJD has five major tips for consumers across the country to keep in mind as this scam picks up speed:
If the scammer calls you, do your best to get their phone number and name while on the phone – and then hang up!
Never share any information that they’re asking for over the phone
Scammers can make falsified text messages or emails look like they’re coming from legitimate sources. Never reply to them directly, click on any links, or open any attachments.
Your local circuit court jury coordinator can help you verify if the calls/texts/emails are legitimate or coming from a scammer. Reach out to them for clarification or to report any incidents.
If you’ve already sent money to a scammer, report it to both local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission.