Ducking Jury Duty

I hate to admit it, but when I got my notice for jury duty, my first inclination was to find a way around it. Does that make me a bad person? Probably, but it turns out that I’m not the only one.

The U.S. Marshals Service is warning the public of a nationwide telephone scam involving individuals claiming to be U.S. marshals, court officers or law enforcement officials seeking 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 order to appear more credible, the scammers may even provide information like badge numbers and the names of actual federal judges and courthouse addresses. Victims have been told they can avoid arrest by paying a fine using a reloadable credit card and were urged to call a number and provide their own credit card number to initiate the process. 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 U.S. Clerks Office.

For what it’s worth, doing your civic duty is protected under the law.¬†Federal and State Jury Duty Leave Laws afford certain protections. For example, your employer cannot fire or intimidate you based on your federal jury service. He or she cannot harass or intimidate you, either.

If you believe you were a victim of the jury duty scam, you are encouraged to report the incident to your local law enforcement department, or local U.S. Marshals or FBI office.

For internet-related fraud, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center can be contacted at www.ic3.gov.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

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