The Jury Duty Phone Scam

When someone uses the phone to commit a crime, everyone in the call center industry is hurt by it.  Essentially, each piece of bad phone news leaves the public more skeptical, less tolerant, and increasingly impatient with all manner of telephone transactions.  The result is decreased sales, lower close rates, increased agent stress, more hang-ups, greater staff turnover, and an escalated proclivity for caller phone rage.

I recently heard about a new twist on an identity theft scam via the telephone.  The FBI calls it the “Jury Duty Scam.”  Here’s how it works: An unsuspecting person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be a “jury coordinator” who threatens that person with fines and arrest for not responding to a jury duty summons.  When the recipients protest that they were never contacted, the scammer asks for their social security number and date of birth in order to verify their identity and cancel the arrest warrant.

Often the caller indicates that a small fine is involved, offering to take care of it over the phone — thereby saving the person a trip to the court house.  Of course, the caller is willing to accept any major credit card.

Once this information is shared, the called person’s identity is stolen and their bank accounts are wiped clean.
The reason this scam is often successful is that the thieves, by claiming to represent the court system, are able to easily intimidate their victims into doing whatever is asked of them to avoid further problems, including bigger fines, being arrested, and possible jail time.

This warning came from my credit union.  I now hold them in higher esteem because they have provided me with valuable and appreciated information.  As call centers we are in a great position to do the same.  By being proactive, we have a chance to garner some positive public attention — and it’s long overdue.

[Posted by Peter DeHaan for Connections Magazine, a contact center publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]