Phone scams are continuing county problem


Phone scams are continuing county problem

BY SAMANTHA HEARN

Another jury duty scam is going around Williamson County, and police are asking citizens to be aware and alert.

According to the Brentwood Police Department, the caller will tell the intended victim they missed jury duty and demand that they pay a fine over the phone or face arrest.

The phone scams typically involve victims being called by a person claiming to be a deputy with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and asking for money to avoid arrest for missing jury duty.

A string of jury duty scams occurred last year, but the caller recently used names that sounded official, instructing the victims to buy prepaid debit cards and then give the card numbers over the phone to the scammers.

“Telephone scams are nothing new to Brentwood, Williamson County or anywhere else in the area,” Brentwood Assistant Police Chief Tommy Walsh said earlier this year. “We have had a number of residents fall victim to the jury duty phone scam.”

When Brentwood police receive a report of a phone scam they look at the facts to determine what can be done, if anything.

“In most of these cases the unknown suspect or suspects are not in the area,” Walsh said, adding that sometimes they aren’t even in the United States, making it difficult to identify the culprit. “It is important for residents to monitor the local media to make themselves aware of things that are happening in the area.”

In addition to jury duty scams, residents of Williamson County have also experienced IRS scams and Microsoft computer update scams over the phone.

Recently, Indian police arrested 70 people after uncovering a massive IRS scam cheating thousands of Americans out of millions of dollars. The yearlong scam involved running fake call centers which sent voicemail messages telling U.S. citizens to call them back because they owed back taxes.

The IRS reports receiving over 900,000 complaints about similar scam calls since October of 2013, with more than 5,000 people falling for it and paying out more than $26 million collectively.

The IRS has said it will never call and demand any immediate payments, or require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes such as a gift card of prepaid debit card. It will also never ask for credit card numbers over the phone.

When the Williamson County Circuit Court gets calls about the scam, it sends residents directly to the WCSO so a report can be filed. If someone misses jury duty, the court will give them a call as a reminder.

“Sometimes people forget or there’s a sickness or something like that,” Circuit Court Clerk Debbie McMillan Barrett said. “If someone doesn’t show up we just give them a call and remind them.”

As far as being held in contempt of court if you miss it beyond those conditions, that decision is left to the judge.

“People are very responsible in our county so we don’t normally have that problem,” McMillan Barrett said. “We work with people the best we can.”

If you receive a phone call that you believe is a jury duty scam, hang up and report it to the WCSO at 615-790-5550. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS asking for money, you can report it by clicking here or calling 800-366-4484.

Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at samantha@brentwoodhomepage.com

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