For over a decade and from coast to coast, fraudsters have successfully been manipulating seniors over the phone through intimidation and confusion. Not only do these criminals receive a quick payout, but also glean sensitive personal information that may result in future identity theft.
It starts with an after-hours phone call when fraudulent callers falsely claim to be members of local police, sheriff’s department, the U.S. Marshals, or other law enforcement offices claims. The recipient is then told that they have failed to appear for mandated jury duty, missed a court-summoned order to appear as a defendant in a case, have a warrant out for their arrest, or are in contempt of court. The caller ID may even display correct phone numbers for a law enforcement agency or a courthouse while the caller may cite names of known police and judges. The scheme is to make the recipient fearful, wondering if they have indeed missed a summons.
Next, the fraudulent caller states that the victim must pay a fine, usually in the form of a prepaid debit or gift card. He will then ask to confirm the recipient’s identity by soliciting legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, and other ID theft details. At this point, the scammer has the minimum information needed to empty bank accounts, open lines of credit, and access sensitive medical records.
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1. Hang up without providing any confidential information. The fraudulent caller’s only goal is to gather as many sensitive details about the recipient as possible so that they are able to steal as much as possible from them. Avoid releasing these specifics.
2. Know what to expect in the mail. Most authentic jury duty notifications and other summonses are delivered by mail. Only in very rare cases will a prospective jurors be called by legitimate courthouse employees. However, this will only ocur after a jury duty summons was mailed but returned to sender because it couldn’t be delivered. You will never won’t be asked for personal information such as your Social Security number, birth date or driver’s license number.
3. Recognize that legitimate law enforcement officials do not call ahead to warn of an impending arrest, missing jury duty, or any other infraction.
4. Do not answer unknown calls after business hours. Fraudulent will attempt to make contact in the evening after the courthouse has closed because they know they have a better chance of reaching their intended victims.
5. Verify missed jury allegations with the court clerk or other jury duty coordinator. Thieves can manipulation the caller ID to display the name and phone number of any agency or business, so don’t be fooled by their ability to appear authentic.
If you have further questions or concerns regarding this long-standing scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency.