Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jury Duty Scam Courts New Victims

Burnsville, Minnesota – January 6, 2015Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) is warning the public about a jury duty scam which, regrettably, never goes out of style. Though most adults are aware they may be called for jury duty, not everyone is familiar with the bureaucracy surrounding this process; the exact manner in which people are summoned for jury duty. People also know that jury duty is both a civic duty and mandatory. Scammers, meanwhile, look to profit off situations where uncertainty exists.

“The jury duty scam is just clever enough to pay dividends for fraudsters,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Our hope is that by spreading the word about this scheme it will reduce the pool of people who might get hooked by it.”

How the jury duty scam works:

Scammers contact you, claiming you’ve missed jury duty. The calls or messages threaten people with arrest or jail time if they don’t pay the fine for “missing” jury duty. Scammers will then seek personal information such as bank account or credit card numbers – even Social Security numbers. BBB advises the public that if you get a call from someone who claims to be a court official and asks for sensitive personal information or demands a payment, it’s a scam.

In Minnesota, jury duty notices/summonses are sent through the mail. Though Minnesota law requires people to serve on jury duty, if qualified, nobody will call you – or email or text – demanding payment for missing jury duty.

BBB Tips to avoid the jury duty scam:

Don’t let scammers pressure you. If you get a call from alleged court officials asking for financial information, end the phone call and report the scam to BBB and your county’s jury office.

Be aware that scammers can mask their identity. Scammers have the ability to use software to disguise how they appear on your caller ID. So while calls might appear to be from your local courthouse, it could be a fraudster on the other end of the line.

Guard your personal information. Giving out sensitive personal or financial information over the phone is always a bad idea -  don’t do it.

Have questions about the process? If you did indeed miss jury duty, you will be sent a notification in the mail. However, if you have any doubt that a mailing is legitimate, contact your county courthouse.

For the latest consumer news, fraud alerts and free BBB Business Reviews, visit bbb.org.