Mississippi-Attorney General Jim Hood says the long-standing jury duty scam has resurfaced in his part of the country.
In his scam, someone calls and claims to be a court officer, alleging that you failed to appear for jury duty. The caller may even say a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
“It's easy to see why this works," Hood said.. "The victim is clearly caught off guard and understandably upset at the possibility of being arrested.”
After alarming the victim, the caller then seeks to “confirm” the victim’s Social Security number and other personal information. The victim is often told that the entire matter can be instantly dismissed by paying a fine. All the victim needs to do is provide a credit card or checking account routing number. By the time the call ends, the scammer has all the information necessary to open lines of credit under the unsuspecting victim’s name.
“Often, these identity thieves are actually thousands of miles away and in other countries,” said Hood. “Under this scheme, criminals may simply go through the phone book hoping that sooner or later someone will provide the sensitive information they need to steal an identity.”
This scam's simplicity could be what makes it so effective. The victim reacts immediately out of fear, rather than taking the time to reflect about the information being requested. In reality, court workers will never call you to ask for social security numbers and other private information. In fact, most courts follow up via United States mail and rarely, if ever, will call prospective jurors.
Consumers who receive such a call can verify whether they must appear for jury duty by calling their circuit and justice court clerks.
“Protecting yourself is the key. Consumers should never hand over personal information in response to an unsolicited telephone call or e-mail, no matter how legitimate it might appear,” said Hood.