Most of us take those summonses for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty, that a new and ominous kind of scam has surfaced. Fall for it and your identity could be stolen, reports CBS. In this con, someone calls pretending to be a court official who threateningly says a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you didn’t show up for jury duty. The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Socia! l Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Sometimes they even ask for credit card numbers. Give out any of this information and bingo! Your identity just got stolen.

The scam has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma, Illinois, Colorado, Texas and California..

This (scam) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they’re with the court system.

The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning consumers about the fraud. Check it out here.

How to Avoid Falling Victim to ‘Jury Duty’ Scams:

  • Court workers will not telephone to say you’ve missed jury duty or that they are assembling juries and need to pre-screen those who might be selected to serve on them, so dismiss as fraudulent phones call of this nature. About the only time you would hear by telephone (rather than by mail) about anything having to do with jury service would be after you have mailed back your completed questionnaire, and even then only rarely.
  • Do not give out bank account, social security, or credit card numbers over the phone if you didn’t initiate the call, whether it be to someone trying to sell you something or to someone who claims to be from a bank or government department. If such callers insist upon “verifying” such information with you, have them read the data to you from their notes, with you saying yea or nay to it rather than the other way around.
  • Examine your credit card and bank account statements every month, keeping an eye peeled for unauthorized charges. Immediately challenge items you did not approve.