U.S. Marshals warn of jury duty, Publishers Clearing House phone scams
FORT MYERS, Fla. The U.S. Marshals Service is warning the public of several nationwide telephone scams involving individuals claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers, or other law enforcement officials.
In one scam, the caller attempts to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty. The U.S. Marshals Service does not call anyone to arrange payment of fines over the phone for failure to appear for jury duty or any other infraction. In another scam, call recipients are told they have won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes and are directed to pay a fee in order to claim the prize.
In order to appear credible, these scammers may provide information like badge numbers, the names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses. They may also spoof their phone numbers to appear on caller ID as if they are calling from the court or a government agency.
Victims have been told they can avoid arrest or claim a prize by purchasing a prepaid debit card or gift card and reading that number over the phone to the scammers. The Marshals Service urges the public not to divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers, even if they sound legitimate. Actual court orders can be verified through the clerk of court’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area.
If you believe you were a victim of such a scam, you are encouraged to report the incident to your local U.S. Marshals Service office. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
Things to remember:
- U.S. Marshals will never seek payment of fines via the telephone for individuals who missed jury duty or have outstanding arrest warrants.
- U.S. Marshals will never ask for credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers for any purpose.
- Don’t divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
- Report scam phone calls to your local U.S. Marshals Service office.