BY Shulamit Shvartsman for Lawyers.comsm
An old scam has reappeared and has been catching many people off guard by stealing their identity through unsuspected means - jury duty.
What happens is you receive a call from a person saying he works for your local court and is a jury coordinator. He tells you a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you failed to appear for jury duty.
Surprised and scared, you explain you never even received notification you had jury duty. The caller then asks you for your social security number and date of birth so he can verify the information and cancel the warrant. Relieved to settle this issue, you gladly give him your information.
Before you know it, someone uses your social security number to steal your identity. The caller opens new accounts and credit cards under your name and accesses all of your banking information.
This scam is spreading quickly and has been reported in at least 11 states. It's a success because it preys on the victim's emotions. The shock and fear of being told you'll be arrested catches you off guard, and you become panicked and less aware, more likely to give out personal information.
Don't Fall Victim to Such Scams
- Court workers will never call to tell you missed jury duty and will hardly ever reach you by telephone. The only time you might get a call regarding jury service would be after you mailed back your questionnaire, and even that's rare
- Court workers will never call you to ask for private information. Most courts only follow up using snail mail
- Never give out your social security number or personal confidential information over the phone if you didn't initiate the call. Also, never carry your social security number in your wallet or purse
- Examine your credit card and bank statements every month for unauthorized charges. If you have questions, call your credit card company immediately
- You should monitor your credit report (free credit reports are available online at www.annualcreditreport.com). You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency responsible for handling identity theft
It's also a good idea to contact an identity theft lawyer to make sure every source is protected and you're protected in the future.
Following the safety measures above and using common sense will help protect you and your identity.
Questions for Your Attorney
- I was a victim of identity theft after my personal information was compromised in a scam like the jury duty scam, and now there are false debts and accounts opened under my name. Will a letter from an attorney explaining the situation help resolve these false debts and accounts?
- Are there any laws regulating the fees for freezing your credit profiles with the credit bureaus?
- If I can prove or confirm that a debt is fraudulent due to an identity theft incident, do the credit bureaus have to remove the item from my records?
- Who prosecutes the perpetrators of scams like this? State or federal authorities? Can consumers sue the scammers or businesses that don't due their due diligence before extending credit or opening accounts?