A week ago, Ada County Jury Commissioner Marji Shepherd received her first call from an elderly woman who was terrified because she was told she’d missed her jury duty and she needed to pay a fine or be jailed.
Shepherd says the woman was panic-stricken because they called her several times that same day, and would not leave her alone. The caller told her the fine for missing jury duty is $1,200 and it must be paid immediately.
“Ignore the calls,” Shepherd says she told the woman, but it didn’t seem to ease her fear. “I can’t stand that they are targeting these people.”
Since that first call, she has received dozens of inquiries.
“They are calling their family members and others wondering what to do,” says Shepherd. “I don’t want this to go on.”
Ada County Jury Services is responsible for screening, selecting and empaneling juries for courts. It is also responsible for contacting people for service. They are not making these calls.
Better Business Bureau CEO Dale Dixon says this particular scam has operated from state to state since 2008, most recently appearing in the Northwest.
“It’s preying on the elderly, those who are known to be civic and community minded,” he says. “You should know that courts almost always correspond with private citizens via snail mail and rarely if ever call prospective jurors.
Shepherd says that all communication about service is done through the mail. If someone fails to appear for jury duty, that person would generally receive notification by mail, or a deputy would be dispatch.
“It would be very rare that anyone else would call them, but I, personally, would be calling them,” she says.
Ada County courts are not the only ones who are posting warnings about the jury duty scam.
Federal courts do not need anyone to give out sensitive information over the phone, to pay fines immediately, or threaten arrest
Shepherd says, “Ignore the calls. Do not go to Walmart. Call the sheriff’s office or police and report it.”