Our Riverside County Joint Fraud Task Force has adopted a new motto – ‘Changing Times – Changing Frauds’. When we started five years ago we were primarily focused on mortgage fraud as that was the predominant scam at the time. However, with the changing market the opportunity for that type of mortgage fraud has dwindle but we’ve seen an explosion in loan mod fraud, short-sale fraud and all kinds of housing schemes aimed at senior citizens including some very insidious reverse-mortgage scams.
Last week I brought to your attention a new one making the rounds. Actually it’s been around awhile but just making a new appearance on the scene – this is the ‘Title Compliance Office’ scam that warns you to have a copy of your grant deed in your hot little hands or else people can just waltz in and take your home. If you don’t have it they can get you ‘certified’ or ‘official’ copy for just $167 IF you respond before 5/24. Of course anybody who has purchased a house has received a copy of their grant deed. If they can’t find it, the County Clerk will happily get them a duplicate for about $10. It’s been primarily seniors who have received this latest mailing so far.
Today there’s a new one that has also been around since at least 2004 but seems to be cropping up again out here (CA) and at least 11 other states that I’m aware of. It has become so prevalent that our Riverside County Court System has posted a warning on their jury duty site – here’s how it works:
You get a phone call purportedly from the court system claiming you’ve failed to report for jury duty and an arrest warrant is about to be issued for you. YIKES! The victim will rightly claim they never received a jury duty notice but the caller will inform them it was mailed and the presumption is that they received it and ignored it.
The caller will then request some information from the victim so they can ‘verify’ the callers claim and ‘hopefully’ get the arrest warrant canceled. This information includes your social security number, date of birth and sometimes even a credit card # and/or other private information.
Congratulations! Your identity has just been stolen. People tend to go along with this scam because it sounds plausible, it’s entirely possible they didn’t receive or overlooked a jury duty notice and they want to avoid an arrest warrant. They’re a little less vigilant about giving up their information because, after all, it’s the court system.
In reality the court system will NEVER call you to ask for your social security number or other private info. Most courts will follow up with regular mail and will rarely, if ever, call you.
It doesn’t matter who is calling or why – NEVER give out your social security number or other private information to somebody you don’t know over the phone. NEVER! The reasons may be different – the scam is not. The goal is to lift your identity and by the time you hang up from the call, they have already sold your identity to countless other people and you are up the proverbial creek – no paddle, no sail.
Here’s the official warning on the Riverside County Courts website:
Be careful what information you reveal over the phone. Identity thieves have called Riverside County
residents and threatened them for failing to report for jury service. The thieves then asked for confidential
information. The Court and Jury Assembly Room staff will NEVER call you and ask for Social Security Numbers,
credit card numbers or other sensitive information. Do not give out such information over the phone to
anyone who calls you claiming to be with the judicial system.