(WTOL) - The U.S. Marshals are asking people nationwide to be vigilant and report phone scams to both them and the Federal Trade Commission.
U.S. Marshals have been made aware of several nationwide impostor phone scams where people pretend to be U.S. marshals, court officers or other law enforcement officials in order to collect a fine in lieu of arrest for failing to report for jury duty or other offenses.
The scammers then tell victims they can avoid arrest by purchasing a prepaid debit card, such as a Green Dot card, or gift card and read the card number over the phone to satisfy the fine.
The U.S. Marshals say they will never ask for a credit or debit card, gift card number or banking routing numbers, and will never ask for funds to be wired to them for any reason.
“If the caller is urging you to provide this type of information or any other personal or financial information, hang up and report the call to the Marshals and the FTC. You can even report to both agencies anonymously,” said US Marshal Pete Elliott.
Scammers use many tactics to sound credible. They sometimes provide information like badge numbers, names of actual law enforcement officials and federal judges, and courthouse addresses.
They may also spoof their phone numbers to appear on caller ID as if they are calling from the court or a government agency.
If you think you have been a victim of a scam like this one or you believe a scammer tried to contact you in this manner, the U.S. Marshals offer some tips to remember:
- U.S. Marshals will never ask for credit/debit card/gift card numbers, wire transfers, or bank routing numbers for any purpose.
- Do not divulge personal or financial information to unknown callers.
- Report scam phone calls to your local U.S. Marshals Service office and to the FTC.
- You can remain anonymous when you report.
- Authenticate the call by calling the clerk of the court’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area and verify the court order given by the caller.