As Texas celebrates Jury Appreciation Week the first week in May, the State Bar of Texas Jury Service Committee wants to educate the public on how to avoid jury duty scams.
Jury Appreciation Week is dedicated to honoring those who give of their time to participate in our judicial system. The Jury Service Committee wants residents to be aware that, across the state, people are being targeted by phone calls and emails, threatening them with prosecution for failing to comply with jury service in federal or state courts. These calls and emails are fraudulent and not connected with U.S. or Texas state courts.
During a typical scam call, victims are told that a warrant was issued for their arrest because they failed to appear for jury duty. The caller then asks the victim to “verify” personal information, such as their date of birth and Social Security number. In other cases, scammers go further and ask that the victim pay a fine over the phone to avoid arrest. Victims are pressured to provide a credit card number or other payment information.
According to a recent notice from the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Texas, the jury duty scam is the latest in a series of identity theft schemes where criminals try to get people to reveal personal information over the phone. Victims are often caught off guard and, given the nature of the call, provide the information, the Better Business Bureau reported.
To help protect Texas residents, the State Bar of Texas Jury Service Committee compiled the following tips from federal and state courts, the Better Business Bureau, and Consumer Reports. Remember that:
- Courts will not call you about jury duty. Legitimate jury notices will come by mail, even if you missed your assigned time to report to jury duty.
- Courts will not ask you for personal information over the phone or require you to provide sensitive information such as Social Security or credit card numbers by phone or email.
- Scammers can mask their identity. Be aware that criminals may use software to disguise their phone numbers and make it appear that their calls are originating from your local courthouse or police department. Don’t trust your caller ID!
- Courts will not call you asking for money. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a court official asking for money for missing jury duty, hang up and report the scam to your local police department.
If you receive a call or email of the type described above, report it to your local police department. Any questions about jury service should be directed to your local district clerk.