Court clerks are warning people that the "jury duty scam" is getting worse in 2016, with people now showing up at local courthouses, worried they will be arrested if they don't.
Tim Obermeyer was stepping out of his car, when his cell rang.
"This guy said 'excuse me are you Tim Obermeyer', and I said yes that's my name."
What happened next caused his jaw to drop.
"He said 'I'm sheriff Tom Wilder, and I am on the phone to issue you a warrant for your arrest for skipping jury duty.'"
He says the caller then asked for his birth date and Social Security Number, to confirm his identity.
"He said 'sir if you don't give me this information, I'm going to send a police cruiser to your house and they are going to come and arrest you,'" Obermeyer said.
At that point, Obermeyer says, he was so shaken he hung up.
Good thing. When he called the Sheriff's department, he found out he almost fell victim to an ID theft scam.
Can You really be Arrested?
Sheriff's offices and Jury Commissioners across the country say they never call anyone threatening immediate arrest.
They don't even know your cell phone number.
In most cases, these are scams to get your Social Security number, or a credit card number that they can then charge for your "fine."
Nor do they send threatening emails, which is yet another scam.
But jury commissioners across the country now say people are showing up at courthouses in a panic, thinking they are about to be arrested.
What is the Law?
Laws vary from state to state, but according to LegalZoom.com most jury summons laws are similar to this:
1. A real jury summons comes as letter to your home mailbox.
2. If you fail to show, it is followed by a second letter.
3. No response to the two letters? Next would be a personal visit from a Sheriff's deputy, reminding you of your duty.
4. Finally, you can be held in Contempt of Court, which can result in a fine of several hundred dollars.
The Judge may also issue a "bench warrant," which means an officer can arrest you if you are pulled over for a traffic stop.
But they won't come to your door to arrest you. They will never demand you pay a fine on the spot.
Officers are too busy with real crime these days.
So Who Was Calling?
So who was it? "I Googled the number and nothing comes up," Obermeyer said.
Most likely it was a scammer, using a device to change their caller ID, ready to go after the next victim, who may not be as savvy, and may divulge their personal information.
So be careful, and don't waste your money.
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