Jury Scams on the Rise in Sarasota County

Government

Karen E. Rushing, Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller, warns the community of a statewide surge in imposters calling residents and accusing them of missing jury duty, and it is occurring with increased frequency in Sarasota County. Citizens are being informed that there is an outstanding citation and/or warrant out for their arrest due to missing jury duty. The caller presents themselves as a Clerk official, judge or law enforcement officer, and requests that payment be made (often by wire, ‘green dot’ loadable debit cards or other prepaid gift cards) to avoid arrest and incarceration. Like most scams, jury duty scammers have a few versions, not all of which ask for money outright. In certain circumstances, the jury scam may be used to trick you into providing sensitive information that can be used for identity theft. There is no such process at the Sarasota Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller’s office. Neither the Clerk and Comptroller, nor law enforcement employees initiate phone calls for missed jury duty. Nor will employees of either agency demand payment by phone or request personal financial information. Moreover, failure to appear for jury duty is not grounds for immediate arrest. Court-related communications are typically sent through normal mail.Important tips to remember: Jury summons come in the mail, not by email or phone; If no jury summons was received, then ignore phone calls from anyone claiming to be calling about jury duty; The Clerk and Comptroller’s office will not contact you by phone for failure to appear for jury duty; The Clerk and Comptroller’s office will not phone or email you to request any type of payment for missing jury duty; If someone asks you to pay a fee or fine with a gift card, it is likely a scam; Ignore calls for immediate action because scammers will often try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency; Be wary of relying on Caller ID, as many phone numbers can be “spoofed” making a phone call look like it’s coming from a legitimate source; If a caller threatens you, hang up and call 311 immediately; Do not give out financial or other personal information over the phone. Protecting yourself against phone or email scams is simple:  just hang up or do not reply to written communication. Unless you have initiated contact, never give your personal or financial information over the phone. If you receive a court-related call and are unsure about its authenticity, call the Clerk and Comptroller’s Jury Office at (941) 861-8000 for verification. If you feel you’ve been a victim of fraud, call local law enforcement at 311.

 

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