This press release put out at the request of the Alachua County Clerk of the Court J. K. Irby.
ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - Alachua County is alerting residents that local citizens are being targeted by phone calls threatening them with prosecution for failing to comply with jury service. Clerk of the Circuit Court J. K. Irby is warning area citizens to be on their guard against the so-called “jury duty” scam.
The scam works like this: A person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be with their local police, sheriff’s department, or the county courts. The caller states that the person has missed jury duty and that there is a warrant out for their arrest. In some cases, the scam may be used to trick a citizen into providing sensitive personal information “to clear it up.” The caller says he’ll need some information for “verification purposes”— your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number all leading to identity theft. If the citizen responds to the caller, he or she is instructed that they can pay a fine, and to send money to the caller (who is, in reality, a scammer) in order to avoid arrest. The citizen may be asked to provide a bank account number, wire money, or put cash on a prepaid debit card like a Green Dot MoneyPak or similar card and send it to the scammer.
This scam preys on citizens’ unfamiliarity with how the jury duty summons process works. The caller may appear to be very legitimate – with Caller ID showing a local number with police department information and an official-sounding voice on the phone.
Here are a few things citizens can use to spot these scams:
- Courts almost exclusively contact consumers about jury duty or missed jury duty by postal mail, not by phone or email.
- Court officials will never ask you for payment or personal information over the phone.
- If the call comes in the evening or at night, it’s a red flag. Real court-related calls should only come during normal business hours.
- If the caller claims to be part of a “warrant amnesty program,” it’s a scam.
- If the caller requests that you pay a fine for jury service via wire transfer or prepaid debit card (such as MoneyPak, Reloadit or similar cards) are a sure sign of fraud.
Irby says, “Jury duty is a vital civic responsibility and should be taken seriously by all citizens. However, it is a crime for anyone to falsely represent himself or herself as a court official seeking to scam our local citizens. Persons receiving such a telephone call or email should not provide the requested information and should notify the Clerk of Court's office or the Alachua County Sheriff’s office.”
For more information, contact Alachua County Clerk of the Circuit Court J. K. Irby at 352-374-3636.