Beware! A Cunning New ID Theft Scam
Most of us take those summons for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty that a new and ominous kind of scam has surfaced. Fall for it and your identity could be stolen, reports CBS News.
In this con, someone calls pretending to be a court official who threateningly says a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you didn't show up for jury duty. The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Sometimes the crooks even ask for credit card numbers. Give out any of this information and bingo! Your identity just got stolen.
The scam has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma, Illinois and Colorado.
Martha Rhynes, a real jury coordinator in Grayson County, Okla., told KXII-TV, "We never call and ask anyone for their Social Security number, date of birth, or other personal information." Instead, the courts communicate with potential jurors only by mail and never by phone, including people who don't show up. Most states don't even have jurors' phone numbers until they have actually been chosen to sit on a jury. And even then, such information is sealed with the court records. Rhynes's advice? Never give out personal information over the phone to anyone.
"This (scam) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try and bully people into giving information by pretending they're with the court system," Scott Holste, spokesman for the Missouri Attorney General's Office, told the Missourian News.
The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their Web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.