(WHDH) — The Better Business Bureau is warning the public of jury duty scammers who are using threatening phone calls and intimidating emails to prey on the fear of law enforcement in an effort to scare people into forking over money.
The scammers typically claim to be from a local law enforcement or judicial agency and tell the victim that they missed a jury duty summons and could be arrested, according to the BBB. They may also state that a warrant has already been issued.
More often than not, the scammers have a caller ID showing a police phone number and an official-sounding voice, the BBB said. They then state that the victim can avoid arrest by paying a fine by wiring money or putting cash on a prepaid debit card.
In some cases, the BBB says scammers may trick victims into providing sensitive and personal information that can be used for identity theft. In other instances, scammers reportedly send an email and attach a “jury summons” to the message, which doubles as infectious malware.
The BBB shared the following tips on how to spot jury duty scams:
- Be skeptical of email and unsolicited calls. Courts do not typically summon people via email, text message or phone. Unless you are involved in a case and have opted into receiving other types of communications, courts normally communicate through mail.
- Pick up the phone. If you ever question whether you need to appear in court, call the appropriate judicial agency. Don’t call the number in the email, as that will likely just lead you to the scammer. Look for official websites in your jurisdiction… and be on the lookout for fake websites, too.
- Ignore calls for immediate action. Scammers try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don’t fall for it.
- Beware of requests to pay via wire transfer or prepaid debit card (such as MoneyPak, iTunes or similar cards). These are almost always a sign of fraud.
- Ask someone for help. BBB’s research shows that asking someone else is an important factor in reducing the chance of being scammed. Ask a family member or friend, “Does this sound right?”
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