My credit union just alerted me to a new identity theft scam going around. The FBI calls it the “Jury Duty Scam.” In researching it, I discovered that it’s not really new, but since it’s new to me, perhaps others are unaware as well.
So, I’m doing my part to spread the news. If even one person is kept from having their identity stolen and their bank accounts wiped clean, it will be well worth my time and effort.
Here’s how the scam works:
An unsuspecting person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be a “jury coordinator,” who threatens that person with fines and arrest for not responding to a jury duty summons.
When the recipients protest that they were never contacted, the scammer asks for their social security number and date of birth in order to verify their identity and cancel the arrest warrant.
Often the caller indicates that a small fine is involved, offering to take care of it over the phone — thereby saving the person a trip to the court house. Of course, the caller will accept any major credit card.
Once this information is shared, the called person’s identity is then stolen and their bank accounts wiped clean.
The reason this scam is often successful is that thieves, claiming to represent the court system can easily intimidate their victims into doing whatever is asked of them to avoid further problems.
To protect yourself, never give out any personal information to anyone via an unsolicited phone call or email.
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.