WASHINGTON – The U.S. District Court for Maryland recently joined federal courts across the country in warning citizens to beware of callers posing as officials in an attempt to get people to reveal confidential personal information.
Although the court has received no recent complaints from Maryland, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has been receiving reports of problems from other states and wanted to make people aware, said Felicia Cannon, clerk of the U.S. District Court for Maryland.
The official warning can be found in bold, red print on the main page of the court’s Web site, www.mdd.uscourts.gov.
The fraudulent callers identify themselves as court officials and tell people that they have broken the law by failing to report for jury duty, said Dick Carelli a spokesman for the U.S. Courts. The callers then try to get the victim to reveal personal information such as a Social Security number, which could be used to steal the person’s identity.
That is just what happened to an unidentified Connecticut woman last month, said Kevin Rowe, clerk of the U.S. District Court for Connecticut.
After being told there was a warrant out for her arrest, the woman was asked to confirm her home and work address and the last four digits of her Social Security number, Rowe said.
The woman became suspicious when she looked at her caller ID and noticed that the call came from an 800 number, Rowe said. When she asked the caller why the court didn’t have a regular number, he claimed that it was a post-9/11 security measure.
After hanging up, the woman dialed the 800 number and discovered that it belongs to an auto finance company in Arizona, Rowe said. The next day her employer received a call from the same number seeking information about her.
Officials aren’t sure how many people have received these bogus phone calls, Carelli said, but he hopes the problem isn’t widespread.
“There may be citizens out there who have received such calls but haven’t contacted the courts,” Carelli said.
The courts usually contact prospective jurors through the mail and never ask for sensitive information such as credit card or Social Security numbers, Carelli said.
If someone in Maryland receives a suspicious call from someone claiming to be a court official they should inform the U.S. District Court for Maryland’s supervisor of jury services by calling 401-962-3501.