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Jury duty scam leads to identity theft

Friday, September 28, 2007 | 3:25 p.m. CDT; updated 2:11 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — A consumer alert was sent out Friday morning from the office of Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon concerning scam telephone calls resulting in identity theft. Consumers have recently been receiving calls from individuals posing as federal or state court employees threatening arrest for failure to show up for jury duty.

The scare tactic has persuaded many Missouri residents to give up confidential information, including social security number, date of birth and credit card number, according the consumer alert.

The news release states that this has been a problem in the past, starting as early as two years ago.

The consumer alert warns Missourians that courts will contact jurors by mail, not by telephone, and would never ask for confidential information such as a social security number.

The alert also advises those who receive such a phone call to hang up and call the local courthouse directly to inquire about jury duty. The alert states that by initiating contact, people can know they have reached a reliable employee and provide the necessary information.

John Fougere, press secretary for the Missouri Attorney General, backs these ideas.

“In any situation, the consumer should not give out information if someone asks for it. If you get a call out of the blue and are asked for information, that is a major red flag. The courts contact potential jurors by mail, not by phone, so if you get a call, it is also a red flag, because that is not the means of contact the courts use.” Fougere also said, “Courts don’t need that information at all.”

Fougere added, “We want consumers to learn from this and learn how to spot these red flags. We want to prevent these numbers from being compromised, because it is damaging information. Suspects with this information can open bank accounts, fill out applications and even steal identities. There is a wide range of things to destroy that can take years to recover.”

Missourians with questions or complaints can contact the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or go to ago.mo.gov.


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