One story going around today that sounds like an urban legend is true, and court officials are renewing a warning they put out a year and a half ago. People say they’ve gotten calls purporting to be from local court officials, telling them they’re in trouble for not showing up for jury duty. While they’re upset about the threat of arrest, they are asked to give their social security number and other information, to check their records.
Iowa Supreme Court spokeswoman Rebecca Colton says there’s only one problem — the courts don’t do that. "We never ever ask people to provide us with confidential personal information over the telephone, or through e-mail." Colton says. If you’re being called for jury duty, the clerk of court will send you an official jury questionnaire. It has a bar code on it, contains some basic information about the date you’re being asked to come in for jury service, and it asks some questions that you’re to complete and send it back in to the clerk.
Clerks will follow up with a postcard to remind you of the date you’ve been asked to serve, and it’ll have a phone number you can call with any questions. She says there’s been a recurrence of a scam in which people are asked for information over the phone by someone who says it’s related to their jury service . She says back in August of 2005 the agency learned about a scam being perpetrated in several states, and Iowans were warned back then not to respond to such calls.
Once in a while court employees may call someone who’s been slated for jury duty but hasn’t shown up — but again, they’d never ask them to disclose personal information over the phone. The scam’s reportedly been used in Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state.