State warns: Beware of jury duty scam

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Justice Consumer Protection Unit alerted residents Friday that a phone scam regarding missed jury duty service is again making its way through Delaware, including recently in Kent County.

In the most recent scam, the DOJ said, consumers receive a call from a live person claiming to be calling from a court office (such as the “Kent County Civil Processing Unit”) and that bench warrants have been issued for the consumer’s arrest due to their failure to appear for jury duty.

Consumers have reported that they were told that to avoid arrest, they must to pay a fine via a money order or gift card purchased at a convenience store or pharmacy.

The scam has included someone who refers to themselves as a major and who provides a number with a 302 area code to call back when they are ready to provide the payment.

According to Delaware’s courts, state residents eligible for jury duty are always notified about their obligation to serve jury duty by mail — never by telephone.

If you do receive a call about jury duty, you can check to see if you have been summoned by calling Delaware Superior Court Jury Services at 255-0800 for New Castle County, 735-1901 for Kent County, and 855-7055 for Sussex County.

DOJ also reminded residents to be extra diligent about this or other telephone scams by:

• Never agreeing to pay any fine or other money over the phone, including by purchasing a money order or gift card at a store and providing the number to someone over the phone or by email. Government agencies do not take payments this way.

• Not answering calls from unknown numbers or unfamiliar persons. Scams can be “spoofed” to appear to be coming from a local number, even though the call is originating from out of state or overseas.

• Hanging up on aggressive callers, particularly those who threaten arrest.

The Attorney General encouraged consumers who believe they may have been scammed to call the toll-free Consumer Hotline at 1-800-220-5424 or email the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit at consumer.protection@state.de.us.

If you receive a call but have not paid any money to the scammers, you can report the phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry and file a complaint, www.donotcall.gov.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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