Don't fall for this jury duty scam
Get a call about missing jury duty? Don't fall for it -- and certainly don't pay out! It's a scam that is making the rounds, experts warn.
Officials scattered from Massachusetts to South Carolina and Alabama to California and Utah have put out the word about residents getting shaken down to clear their records. Often the calls come from out of state, but because caller ID can be faked, they can also appear to be coming from the local courthouse or a law enforcement agency.
The most likely people to fall for this sort of scam are older folks who think they are doing the right thing and want to avoid getting a bad mark on their record, said Eduard Goodman, chief privacy officer of the personal security firm IDT911. Plus, he said, the calls can be quite convincing -- right down to including background noise that makes it seem like the call is coming from a police station.
The set-up can be so sophisticated, Goodman said, that it could involve one call that pretends to be from the court system -- which is recorded to allow the scammers to pick up on clues that can be used on a follow-up call that pretends to be from the police.
In addition, scammers can collect information by other means to make it seem as though they know more about you, lending some additional credibility.
"We suspect that this scam relies heavily on social media to piece together information about the victims, particularly who their friends and relatives are," Goodman said. "In some reports we’re hearing about scammers contacting the victim’s girlfriend, spouse, friend or roommate to put pressure on the victim or as an alternate source of scam money."
These scams provide plenty of red flags, but you have to be aware of them since the calls themselves can be quite convincing.
Goodman said the first thing to be aware of is that the police aren't going to call you to let you know they have a warrant for your arrest.
"What (the police) would do is send you something by mail that is part of an automated, built-out process," he said. "Because we’re dealing with the courts, everything will have to have a paper trail. They won’t do this blindly with a call. If they wanted to contact you for missing jury duty, you would be asked to appear before the court to explain why you failed to show -- if they did anything at all."
The next flag -- this is the one where you need to stop the scam in its tracks -- is when they ask you to pay a fine or penalty. They will most likely request payment via a wire service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram or through a prepaid cash card. Pay by those means and it's like handing away cash.
For those who believe they might have gotten a legitimate call from local authorities, Goodman suggests independently calling back the agency and inquiring yourself about the issue. Don't get the number from the callers.
More from MSN Money:
- Obamacare scams are thriving
- Avoid outrageous interest rates
- Many newly eligible for Obamacare unsure they'll buy
This is like the guy calling me from windows It services and says I have a virus in my computer
says his name is mike smith AKA lying india guy.
I would be highly suspicious if I got one of these calls...I'm not a registered voter in SC so I shouldn't be getting any jury summons.
It's kind of like all these emails I keep getting saying I Won!!! It's hard, if not impossible, to WIN, if I never entered.
If you didn't get a jury duty notice by mail, you don't have jury duty and won't miss jury duty. Many jurisdictions also have a phone system to tell you if you're supposed to show up or not.
Just like the people that call and ask the model number and brand for whatever appliance (the last was my refrigerator) saying it is time to renew my warranty. I told them that if that were true, they would already know, wouldn't they? They hung up on me.
How anyone can fall for this is beyond me. If you have been called for jury duty (I've been called 4 times in two different states), you receive a summons in the mail. It'll either be from the county where you live, or the federal court system if you're being called for federal jury duty. It tells you when you are to report. If you never received a summons you weren't called, period.
There's a very simple solution to this and all the other telephone scams. Get an answering machine and caller-ID. Never answer a call from a number you don't recognize. If the ID says private number or unknown caller, wait to see if they leave a message. If it's a scam artist, they won't bother, they'll more often than not just move on to the next number on their list.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Saving just a single month of expenses may take longer than you think. See how your savings rate affects how quickly you can build a solid emergency fund.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'