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There is not a single reputable business or government agency in existence that will ask for your Social Security number and other private identifying information over email. And if there is, the people running that agency are really, really stupid.
Newsflash folks: That email that appears to have come from your local United States District Court? The one notifying you that you've been selected for jury duty and asking you to send a whole bunch of private information or face fines and jail time? It's fake. Tell your friends, clients, and relatives, just in case.
The current scam involves a spoof email that states that the recipient has been selected for jury duty and instructs the recipient to fill out a questionnaire with her SSN, driver's license number, date of birth, cell phone number, and mother's maiden name.
The email claims to come from eJuror, an online registration program used in about 80 U.S. court districts. But eJuror never requests that personal identification information be sent directly in an email response, according to a notice from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts' website. Instead, courts initiate the qualification questionnaire through postal mail.
A previous scam from earlier this year also targeted federal jurors. Scammers would call individuals and request that they pay fines for missing jury duty over the phone. Courts never impose fines for contempt of court without a hearing before a judge, and even if they were to do so, they would not request payment over the phone.
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First of all, never open attachments. Often, these attachments will contain viruses. This was the case with that other spoof email appearing to come from the courts back in January.
Second, know that the court will never ask for sensitive information over email. Heck, the courts are so far behind, technologically, that they probably won't do more than send a few auto-generated notices.
And finally, when it doubt, check with the court. Call your local court's clerk's office or public information line before you send information to a stranger, or pay a fine, or download an "important attachment."
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.