Bartow, Fla. (April 20, 2020) – Jury service in Polk County is suspended until May 29, but scammers are hard at work trying to take advantage of the uncertainty and confusion caused by COVID-19.
Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Stacy Butterfield says there has been a recent uptick in scams being reported relating to jury duty. The scams usually come as either a fraudulent email or telephone call. Scammers typically impersonate Clerk employees, law enforcement or other government officials. They state the intended victim missed jury duty and must pay money or provide private information to avoid arrest.
The scammers call potential victims and pose as law enforcement, telling the potential victims that they have missed jury duty and will need to pay a fine on a pre-paid debit card.
“Sadly, scammers are targeting our community by taking advantage of the uncertainty we are all facing due to COVID-19’s impact on day-to-day life,” Clerk Butterfield said. “Just last week we became aware of several individuals who each paid scammers $1,800 using prepaid cards. Please don’t be intimidated and don’t fall for these scams. Scrutinize every inquiry, no matter what agency it alleges to come from. Hang up or delete a message immediately if there’s suspicion of fraud, and contact the organization through its official phone number to verify the communication. Please notify your neighbors, friends, families and especially the elderly that scams have increased in our community.”
Important tips to remember:
- Jury summons are sent by mail, never by email.
- The Clerk’s office does not call or email residents to request payment for missing jury duty. The office will also never demand payment via any sort of prepaid debit card or voucher.
- The Clerk of Courts does not call or email residents to verify information related to jury duty or to notify them that they missed jury duty. Communications are only sent by mail.
- If a resident misses jury duty, the individual receives a failure to appear notice in the mail from Chief Judge Masters, Tenth Judicial Circuit.
- Arrest warrants are not issued for failure to report for jury duty.
- Do not open an email attachment from an unfamiliar source, and never provide personal information to an unfamiliar source, either by phone or email.
- Residents can check if they’ve been called for jury duty online using the Jury Application System at www.polkcountyclerk.net/jury-duty.
- Residents can contact the Clerk’s Jury Department directly at 863-534-4568 or 863-534-4569.
If residents encounter scams, they should write down as much information about the encounter as possible and contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200.
For more information, contact the Polk County Clerk of Courts office at 863-534-4000.
*Pictured: Six pre-paid debit cards involved in a Polk County jury scam.