Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
In a public announcement issued recently, a Florida circuit court warned of a new trick by identity theft scammers aimed at getting your personal information. Here's how this new scam works:
- You receive a telephone call from someone claiming to work for the court.
- The caller says you failed to report for jury duty and a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
- The caller then asks for your confidential information, including your Social Security Number, date of birth and credit card number.
- The caller may say this personal information is needed for "verification."
This is a scam . It is precisely the kind of information an identity thief can use to ruin your financial health.
The jury duty scam is only about three weeks old, according to Florida authorities. Still, consumers in nine states have reported receiving such calls. Those states are: Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.
Courts routinely contact potential jurors through the mail, not by telephone. And, requests to change your date to serve or other communications are normally handled through the mail or in person. Courts that issue notices to jury duty do not ask - nor have any need - to obtain your Social Security Number or a credit card number.
Calls about jury duty seem to be another in the scammer's bag of tricks, all designed to scare you into giving up valuable personal information. The most recent trick has been the phishing e-mail which flood electronic mailboxes, that ask for account "verification" or send warnings about unauthorized access to your accounts.
For more on phishing scams, see the Federal Trade Commission publication, How Not to Get Hooked by a 'Phishing' Scam, www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/phishingalrt.htm . Also see, the PRC Alert Watch Out for "Phishing" Emails Attempting to Capture Your Personal Information, www.privacyrights.org/ar/phishing.htm 
If you get a call from someone claiming to call you about missed jury duty, don't give out any personal information. Instead, contact your local court to report this activity. Moreover, it is always a good idea to verify the legitimacy of any calls you receive asking for personal information.
To read the Florida court's public announcement, see http://reports.jud11.flcourts.org/NewsReleases/090502IDScam.pdf