Miami-Dade County

Beware of the jury duty scam

Here is a scam that keeps showing up and driving people crazy. One of my crime watchers sent this to me from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Please pay attention and follow their advice.

An old scam, commonly known as the jury duty scam, has been recirculating around Florida recently and has already defrauded consumers of thousands of dollars. Any caller asking for personal information should automatically be a red flag as potential fraud. Follow these tips to avoid becoming a victim:

Consumers receive a phone call from an individual identifying themselves as an officer of the court. The “officer” says that an arrest warrant has been issued for failure to appear for jury duty. They state that in order to resolve the issue, information for “verification purposes” is needed. This information may include your date of birth, Social Security number and even a credit card number to pay the fine. Other instances include the scammer asking for payment of a fee, typically through a prepaid debit card or a Green Dot Money Pack card, to settle the outstanding warrant.

Some consumers fall victim to this fraud and before they realized what happened, the scammer opens new accounts and credit cards and is able to access personal banking and financial information.

Court workers never request payments from jurors over the telephone, nor do they ask for personal information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers. If a consumer is unable to fulfill jury duty, they are typically asked to provide an explanation or directed to appear in court.

Never give out personal information when answering an unsolicited phone call.

If a consumer is contacted by someone requesting payment for failing to report for jury duty, hang up the phone, it’s a scam.

Anyone receiving this type of call should immediately contact their local law-enforcement agency and the clerk’s office at the nearest district court to notify them of this scam.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer information, protection and complaints. For additional information, contact the department’s Consumer Assistance Center at www.800helpfla.com or call 800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or 800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) in Spanish.

CRIME WATCH AWARDS

Here at Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade, we are down to the wire. Our award ceremony is Friday, and everyone is excited.

We could not have done this without the support of our crime watch groups, our law-enforcement partners and the elected officials that sponsored tables for them as well as those that donated to our silent auction. We want to thank Commissioners Sally Heyman, Audrey Edmonson, Dennis Moss, Javier Soto, Barbara Jordan, Rebeca Sosa, Juan Zapata and Lynda Bell, who all donated tables for their crime watchers to attend.

I especially want to thank Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz for being our event chairman again this year. We also want to thank state Sen. Rene Garcia for sponsoring a table for our Youth Crime Watch Student of the Year and Principal of the Year winners. There are so many to thank, and I will do that next week and also give you the names of the winners of each category. I also want to congratulate all of the municipalities that will be attending recognizing their crime watchers.

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