County officials warn of ‘juror scam’ targeting local residents
Portage County officials said several people in Portage County have reported receiving scam phone calls where the caller states that the recipient has missed jury duty and that they now have to pay a fine for their missed court appearance. The caller then instructs the person to obtain a money order or PayPal voucher to pay off the debt.
In one case, the recipient was apparently instructed to go to Dollar General, which they did but was then persuaded not to make any payment. The Portage County Clerk of Courts Office, which is in charge of jury service for Portage County residents, has received several calls about this scam.
“We will never, ever call you and ask for a payment for a missed jury appearance, ever,” said Trish Baker, clerk of courts. “We use the United States mail exclusively to notify potential jurors. If that doesn’t work, we will send a sheriff’s deputy out to serve you personally with paperwork.”
Every potential Portage County juror receives paperwork in October or November of the year preceding their service. They are required to return a five-question form. They are then notified several more times before the actual jury service date, always by the United States Postal Service.
“These telephone calls are from some scam artist preying on people with busy lives who fear they forgot a court hearing. They are preying on people who don’t know how our court system works, and it is really upsetting,” said Baker.
If anyone receives a telephone call informing them that they missed jury duty and now owe a fine that needs to be paid immediately, they should hang up and call 911 to report it to law enforcement. If they have questions about jury service they should call the Clerk of Courts Office at 715-346-1364. For more information call Baker at the same number.