This Phone Scam Threatens to Throw You in Prison—Then Steals Your Info

You always knew that jury duty was evil....


Frequently, the telltale signs of a scam lie in the peculiar details. Say you receive a FedEx package containing a check you weren’t expectingyou can probably glean that it’s a scam. The same goes if you see an incoming call from an area code you just don’t recognize. But in many other cases, there’s no devil in the details. The ruse ends up being just about as pedestrian as possible. (If you hear this innocuous phrase to start a phone call, hang up. It too is a scam.)

And what’s more pedestrian and routine than jury duty? The civil obligation is bemoaned endlessly in popular media, but it’s a necessary inconvenience from your regular schedule. And recently, scammers have been using people’s fear of being penalized for missing jury duty to pry on precious personal information, according to CT Post.

The con is pretty simple. A potential victim receives a call that shows up on caller ID as being from a law enforcement agency or a courthouse. The caller presents himself or herself as being a court official, member of the sheriff’s department, a local police officer, or a member of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Once their identity is seemingly established, they inform their mark that they have missed jury duty, have failed to reply to a court summons, or that there is a warrant out for their arrest. The caller will frequently cite the names of actual local officials and state that the order was signed by a judge to make the call seem legitimate. Then, they present a way out of the arrest—by paying a fine in the form a wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, or gift cards.

Additionally, the caller may ask for personal identifying information, including your full name, Social Security number, birth date, and other common biographical information used in identity thieving.

“The jury duty scam remains one of the most successful intimidation/imposter schemes,” reads a release from the Fairfield (Connecticut) Police department. “Scammers can not only get a quick payoff but also enough personal details for future identity theft.”

In order to avoid becoming a victim of this scam, keep in mind these facts when it comes the way legitimate officials handle these situations. Officials will not warn of an impending arrest over the phone and will not ask you for personal identifying information over the phone. The calls are frequently made in the evening, and municipal building operates within standard business hours. And when you cross-reference the incoming number, it won’t come up on official government directories, because it isn’t actually a government number.

Remember, this isn’t the only scam in town—keep an eye out for these 10 other scams to make sure no one steals your cash and/or information.

[Source: CT Post]