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Jury duty is a civic responsibility for U.S. citizens that enables the courts to serve justice in a fair and efficient manner.

Unfortunately, some scammers are using this as a cover for targeting innocent victims. The scammers rely on the victims’ limited information about the process to convince them that they have committed a crime. Unfortunately, the scammers are often successful at pulling off their ruse.

Don’t be the next victim! Here’s all you need to know about jury duty scams.

How the scam plays out

Like so many other scams, this ruse begins with an urgent phone call or email. The scammer impersonates a court or law enforcement official, such as a U.S. marshal or a sheriff’s officer, and claims the victim has failed to show up in court for jury duty. They threaten the victim with immediate arrest unless they pay a hefty fine via credit card, prepaid debit card, or money transfer. Unfortunately for the victim, any money they pay will go directly into the scammer’s pockets.

The scammer will sometimes also ask for personal information, like a Social Security number, for the alleged purpose of checking court records. Of course, the scammer will only use this information to steal the victim’s identity.

Whichever way the scam plays out, the story about a missed jury duty summons is completely fabricated and the victim is being scammed.

How to spot the scam

Technology has made it more challenging to spot a scam that plays out over the phone or by email. Scammers often use sophisticated devices to spoof the Caller ID and make it appear as if they’re actually calling from the courthouse or the police department. Emails can also appear to be sent from a legitimate source. Fortunately, though, with some basic information, you can learn to spot jury duty scams and protect yourself from being the next victim.

Here’s what you need to know about jury duty summonses:

  • Failure to appear is not grounds for immediate arrest.
  • Federal courts do not require anyone to provide sensitive information, like Social Security or credit card numbers, over the phone.
  • Courts send jury duty summonses and notices about failure to appear for a court date through the USPS mail.
  • Citizens are not required to pay a fine for missing jury duty without first being given the opportunity to explain themselves in court.
  • Court officials will never demand payment over the phone or via specific means.

How to protect yourself from jury duty scams and similar cons:

  • Never share personal or financial information over the phone or by email to an unverified party.
  • Don’t respond to emails or voicemails about missed service.
  • Never pay an alleged fine using a prepaid gift card or money transfer. It is nearly impossible to trace and reverse these transactions.
  • Don’t let an authentic-looking Caller ID fool you into believing a caller is who they claim to be. When in doubt, call a court official yourself.

If you are targeted

If you believe you’re being targeted, then you can take action to prevent being victimized further.

First, reach out to relevant federal, state, or local courts to verify that you have not actually missed a jury duty summons. They will likely confirm your suspicions about the scam.

Next, do not engage with the scammer. If the scammer left a callback number, ignore it. Delete all emails from the scammer and mark them as spam.

Finally, notify your local courts and law enforcement agencies in your area. You can let your friends know to beware of the circulating scam as well.

Jury duty is a civic responsibility for most Americans. Don’t let scammers use it as a cover to trick you out of your money. Stay alert and stay safe!

Your Turn: Have you been the target of a jury duty scam? Tell us about it in the comments!

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  1. Carolyn Barnes  |  

    I was contacted today and told that I was going to be arrested for not showing up for jury duty for a notice that I never received. The address was incorrect and I am 78. years old. This is terrifying. I am a God fearing widow. Please help me!

    1. Karla  |  

      Ms. Barnes, this sounds like a scam. In many counties, there are age exemptions for serving on juries that are usually 70-75 years of age. If you have still have concerns, please contact your county’s jury services department.

  2. Dale Aaron  |  

    I was contacted by phone today from a supposed Lt. Dan Reed or REID saying I missed a grand jury summons for a juror, Long story short I called my County District office and they didn’t know of any of the Assistant attorney nor the LT. Dan Reed. He wanted me to go to Walmart and send him $7500.00 for a bond. I told him he was a Scammer and he hung up.

    1. Karla  |  

      Hi Dale – We’re glad you didn’t fall for this! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Chucky  |  

    I’m sick of these scammers thinking they can take advantage of the elderly and
    other groups. Why don’t the court just stop publishing our information on their
    websites. That’s where they attach our names to our phone numbers. Duh. Stop enabling their deeds.

    1. Karla  |  

      Hi Chucky – Thank you for your comment. – Karla

  4. Nicholas Cornor  |  

    I got a scam call. Luckily, I’m a lawyer. So I asked what court this was for. A quick google search showed that this guy was lying. He named a federal judge, but stated he was calling for a state judge. So I contacted both judges and gave them his phone number. Hopefully the Marshalls find this guy.

    1. Karla  |  

      Hi Nicholas – Thanks for sharing your story. -Karla

  5. Shelly  |  

    My husband just got a call from someone claiming to be from the federal court in Bexar county, and that he missed a juror summons. He said that a certified letter was signed and that he was on a list to get picked up by police, etc…. My husband asked which precinct this was for and then the guy started to get mean instead of the nice “I’m doing you a favor by saving you money by doing it through him” demeanor that he had before. My husband asked for the address so he could go down there and check it out and the guy was like come on down and he’ll put him the handcuffs on my husband.

    1. Karla  |  

      Wow! Thank you for sharing this, Shelly! -Karla

  6. Cindy  |  

    I just got called today and these guys provided two different citation numbers. I can’t get through to the Bexar County Sheriff’s office to check for sure and my nerves are a bit frazzled. Did they have citations numbers when they called your husband, Shelly?

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