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State court officials send warning on jury-duty scam

Madison, Wisconsin - August 24, 2007

Wisconsin residents are being warned not to give out personal information to people who may be posing as court officials.

In recent weeks, residents in three Wisconsin counties reported being asked for personal information by telephone callers accusing them of missing jury duty, said A. John Voelker, director of state courts.

The scam sometimes works because callers are fearful they may be in legal trouble, said Glen Loyd, a consumer affairs specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

In one case, a Green County woman gave out personal information after she was told she had missed jury duty. In La Crosse County, a caller asked a resident to report to the “old courthouse” with her drivers license and social security card. Three incidents were reported in St. Croix County, including one in which personal information was revealed.

The best way to protect yourself from this scam is to remember that a legitimate request for jury-duty service will arrive by mail as a summons from the clerk of circuit court in the county in which you live, Voelker said.

Many counties allow jurors to respond to juror questionnaires online, and a legitimate questionnaire will include instructions on how to do so through the clerk of circuit court’s Web site. Clerks may also follow up with phone calls, but initial contact regarding jury duty will not be made by e-mail or telephone, Voelker said. A legitimate summons and questionnaire for jury duty also can be verified through a phone call to the appropriate clerk’s office.

DATCP’s Office of Privacy Protection advises consumers that legitimate companies or agencies don’t call or e-mail asking for personal information like account, credit card or social security numbers. Never give out personal information unless you initiated the contact.

To report an incident you believe was intended to result in the illegitimate release of your private information, call DATCP’s hotline at 1-800-422-7128.

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