Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

Scam Alert

Avoid Jury Notices Rigged to Get Your ID

Did you really miss your date at the courthouse or is someone after your personal information?

En español | The phone rings. "I'm calling from the local courthouse," the voice at the other end tells you — you're about to be arrested because you didn't show up for jury duty.

Sign up for AARP's Money Newsletter.

Relax. These calls are part of a resurgence of the "jury duty scam," first revealed by Scam Alert in May 2006. The following month, the FBI issued a warning about this ruse, which at that time hit people in at least 11 states. In recent weeks, there have been scattered reports that this ploy has resurfaced in some parts of the country.

jury duty

Don't give your personal information to scammers claiming you've missed jury duty. — Photo by: Jeff Cadge/Getty Images

The warning of your imminent arrest is intended to scare you into making the usual response: I never received a jury duty summons. Then, claiming to want to clear up the matter, the caller asks you to verify your identity — by providing your Social Security number, birth date and possibly bank or credit card account numbers. Revealing such details can help the caller steal your identity and get credit cards, loans and medical services in your name and at your expense.

As in other telephone scams, the jury duty ruse can appear authentic because your caller ID screen may indicate that the call is coming from a local courthouse. That's because the caller is using "spoofing" products — widely sold on the Internet — that allow the display of any phone number and name on your caller ID.

But the universal verdict from officials is this: Hang up without providing any personal information. You can be sure these calls are phony. Here's why:

Authentic "no-show" summonses for missed jury duty are nearly always delivered by mail. In rare instances when actual court officials may telephone you, they won't ask for personal information.

Legitimate officials don't give a heads-up warning about an impending arrest.

Real court officials would call during office hours, not in the evening when many of these calls occur. Scammers, gleaning names and addresses from phone books or public records, often call after hours when people are more likely to be home.

If you receive a call about missing jury duty, you can authenticate it by looking up the courthouse number yourself. Call and ask for the jury duty coordinator or court clerk's office. Report scam calls to your courthouse and the state attorney general's office.

Your Turn: Ever received this scam phone call or one like it? >>

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues. 

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.