Marlborough, MA - Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT (BBB) is warning the public about a recent phone scam claiming you have failed to report to jury duty and need to pay a fine, usually costing around $2,000.
According to BBB Scam Tracker, 46 jury duty related scams were reported to BBB across the U.S. and Canada in 2016 - twice as many as the year before. As of January 2017, there have already been 23 scams of this sort reported to BBB.
The scam came to rise again this year when Better Business Bureau of Acadiana reported receiving notifications that scammers were calling residents and claiming to be from the sheriff’s office or a federal marshal, telling residents that they missed a federal jury duty summons and will be arrested unless they pay the fines immediately.
A scam of this type typically follows with the victim being asked to provide credit card numbers or to wire money to cover the fake fines. Scammers may also ask for a Social Security number or other personal information for “verification purposes.”
“Many of these scams can seem real and intimidating because scammers often use real law enforcement names and phone numbers with local area codes,” says Paula Fleming, spokesperson for the local BBB. “BBB is warning those who have been summoned to jury duty to watch out for impersonator scams.”
BBB offers these tips to help the community avoid jury duty imposter scams:
Never wire money
Wiring or transferring money should automatically raise a red flag because police will never ask for payment, including Green Dot MoneyPak or iTunes gift cards, over the phone.
Don’t trust a phone call
Most contact between a court and a prospective juror will be through the U.S. mail. Any phone calls by real court officials will not include requests for sensitive personal information. If contacted by law enforcement, always ask for police identification or credentials. Hang up the phone and look up the police or sheriff department’s number listed online and call back to verify someone has just called.
Don’t give out your personal information
Many of these scammers will ask you to verify or confirm your name, birthdate and Social Security number, but jury duty notifications will never ask for personal information. This is one way scammers can steal your identity.
Those who have been affected by this scam are encouraged to report their information to their local police department, the Federal Trade Commission, your state's Attorney General, and BBB Scam Tracker.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses, all available for free at bbb.org.