Don't fall for the jury duty scam
Image Source: Flickr User mrchrishill
Consumers in both South and North Carolina are being hit up with a new scam that’s designed to scare you into handing over hundreds of your hard-earned dollars to avoid jail time. This jury duty scam rears its ugly head every few years and, this fall, we’re hearing reports from local police departments getting calls from scared citizens. Here’s what to look for so you don’t fall prey to this increasingly common scam in today's consumer alert.
Here’s how the scam works
In North Carolina, Wake County law enforcement has reported that local consumers get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Sheriff’s department. They are told they missed assigned jury duty date and missed a required court datee. The next step is to say that a warrant has been issued for the consumer’s arrest – or soon will be – and they can pay a fine to get rid of the warrant and avoid arrest. The amount requested can be several hundred up to $900.
Jury duty scam is on the rise
Eight months into 2015 and already there have been twice as many jury duty scam reports as there was in all of 2014 showing this is a growing concern. The fraudsters perpetrating this scam count on North Carolina scammers being scared of being in trouble with the law and willing to do anything to avoid the frightening notion of being arrested. While it is true that you can be arrested and fined for skipping out on jury duty, you will have plenty of opportunity to know you were called to serve.
How jury duty notices work
The court systems of North Carolina send out jury duty service notification via US mail. The jury pool notices are drawn from current voter registration logs and so should have your current address. When you get a notice of jury summons, you’ll be told when and where to report for service. If you can’t attend jury duty for a legitimate reason, you should call the phone number on the jury summons and discuss your issues with the court representative.
You will never be called about jury duty
The fact that you get a phone call about jury duty is, in itself, a red flag that it’s not a legitimate contact. If you miss jury duty and the court wants to pursue the matter, you will get a follow up notice via mail. Neither the court nor the Sheriff’s department will call you about missing jury duty and will never ask for payment over the phone to avoid arrest or a fine. The court generally won’t have your phone number – only your name and address - and don't contact via the phone.
How to avoid being scammed
It can be scary to get a phone call telling you that you will be arrested. Scammers rely on your fear to help convince you to pay up. They will request an immediate form of payment to dismiss your “warrant” and will demand a MoneyPak card or other form of instant money transfer. This allows them to take the money in a manner where you can’t get it back and it’s difficult to trace the path of the money and track down the scammer.
What to do if you’re contacted for a jury scam
If you get a call like this, hang up immediately. Don’t get scared and don’t engage with the scammer. Tell them not to call back and end the call without further discussion. You can then report the caller ID of the number that called you to the North Carolina Department of Justice (www.ncdoj.org) or call the North Carolina Attorney General’s office to register a complaint at 877-5-NO-SCAM.
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