GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Jury Duty scams are on the rise and state and local officials are warning residents. Officials said scammers use real law enforcement and official names to threaten arrest if people don’t pay up. Onslow County Sherrif’s Office released a statement on Thursday warning their residents of these scams.
But this is how jury duty really works and what to do if you missed your summons.
“It will come by the United States mail, so we mail jury summons currently so you would get some sort of notification in the mail,” said Charles Keller, senior information and communications specialist with NC Judicial Branch. “We don’t make phone calls even if you were to fail to appear for jury service.”
Scammers are calling people telling them they’ve missed jury duty and are asking for money in order to avoid being arrested.
“They identify themselves as a deputy with the Sheriff’s office. It’s scary because they actually look up the deputy names,” said Sgt. Lee Darnell, Pitt County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer.
About every two years, names are drawn at random from a list of licensed drivers and/or registered voters. Then the summons is printed and mailed out.
“Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, chances are it isn’t. Contact your local clerk’s office and you can just ask them, hey I got this phone call, did I in fact have jury service,” said Keller.
If you don’t make your summon, there’s several opportunities to make up the jury service.
“We would always send you a failure to appear letter just to notify you, hey we sent you a summons you missed the court days we need to reschedule that,” said Keller.
Officials said there could be a fine of $50 each time jury duty service is missed. But there are several exemptions which include being an out of state full time students or 72 years of age or older. If needing to be excused, file a signed statement of the request any time five business days before the date of jury duty summons.
For people who impersonate law enforcement through jury duty scams, officials said it’s a serious crime for multiple reasons.
“Absolutely we would arrest these people quickly and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law on so many different charges,” Sgt. Darnell said.
Officials said if you think you’ve been a victim of a jury duty scam or get a scam phone call, hang up and notify your local sheriff’s department, NC Attorney General or you can visit North Carolina Judicial Branch.