In recent months, United States courts have learned that scammers are attempting to trick citizens into providing personal information or money over the phone or by email. The scam often involves a claim or threat that the prospective juror will be prosecuted for a crime if they do not pay a fine or if they fail to comply with jury service. These false claims are used to coerce citizens into providing confidential data, which could lead to identity theft or fraud. Please be aware that scammers may use the names of legitimate judicial officers, courts and law enforcement personnel to lend authenticity to their illegal activity.
In some scams, citizens are asked to provide confidential information, such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc. In others, citizens are told that there is a warrant for their arrest and they are asked to pay a fine. One scam affecting citizens in Maryland threatened to arrest jurors if they did not purchase a debit card and pay $500. Some email scams ask jurors to follow links that entice jurors to provide personal information in what is purported to be an online juror questionnaire.
Here are some facts that can help you identify fraudulent calls and emails:
- Federal courts do not require citizens to provide confidential information by telephone or by email.
- Federal courts do not request credit card numbers.
- No court or law enforcement agency will ever call to request payment of a fine for failure to appear for jury duty. Fines for failure to appear for jury duty would only be imposed by a judge in a court session with the summoned juror in attendance.
- The public are not contacted initially by email or phone for jury service. Prospective jurors first receive an official court mailing (sent via U.S. Mail, in paper) which may direct them to an online questionnaire.
- Social Security numbers are never requested in juror qualification questionnaires.
- Federal courts, including the District Court of Guam, use an online program for jurors called E-Juror, but never request that personal identification information be sent directly in an email or by phone to the Court. Requests to respond to a questionnaire or summons are initiated by formal written correspondence, and jurors are provided instructions to complete any questionnaire or summons in paper or over a secure website.
Persons receiving scam phone and email requests should not respond to them and should not provide any personal information by email or telephone. Jury duty is a vital civic responsibility and should be taken seriously by all citizens. It is a crime for anyone to falsely represent himself or herself as a federal official.
Anyone having questions about the authenticity of a request should contact the Clerk’s Office for the District Court of Guam at (671) 969-4500.