Scammers often use scare tactics to con people into handing over money or personal information. Lately, the story scammers have been using to scare potential victims is the threat of legal action.
The Better Business Bureau has received several reports of callers claiming to be process servers notifying people of court cases against them. There actually is no pending legal action, but scammers want people to believe that they need to comply to avoid ending up in court.
Here’s what to know about this process server scam and how to avoid it.
How the process server scam works
According to reports filed with BBB Scam Tracker, this scam begins with a call from someone claiming to be a process server. They claim that you’re being taken to court for unpaid bills or a similar reason but will say they can’t provide specific details until your papers are served.
Then they will ask you to confirm personal information such as your date of birth or Social Security number. If you ask questions or refuse to comply, they will get angry and insist that you cooperate because you’re facing legal action.
In some cases, scammers will ask for information about your family members. One person who filed a report with BBB said the scammer claimed that there was a lawsuit pending against the person’s mother and the mother’s Social Security number and birthdate needed to be confirmed. The scammer claimed that a process server would be coming to serve papers, but no one showed up.
In that incident and other similar ones, there were no pending lawsuits. The scammers were simply trying to scare people into sharing their personal information.
How to avoid this scam
Take the following steps to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of this or any similar scams.
Don’t answer the phone. Let calls go to voicemail, instead. Typically, scammers won’t leave messages. But if someone does leave a message claiming to be a process server or that you’re facing legal action, don’t call the number that is provided in the message. Take the next step instead.
Check with your local court. Call your local court or visit its website to look up whether there has been a case filed against you. If there is no pending case, don’t trust anyone calling out of the blue who claims that you need to take action.
Don’t be fooled if callers already have some of your personal information. Scammers might trick you into believing that they are court or law enforcement officials by using some of your personal information they’ve already gained illegally. But be aware that court officials typically won’t call and ask you to provide your Social Security number, other personal information or a payment over the phone.
Be wary of scare tactics. Scammers use threats to scare people into taking action. However, legitimate court employees won’t threaten you. So if someone is pressuring you to provide personal information or to make a payment, it’s likely a scam.
If a scammer contacts you claiming to be a process server, report it to your local law enforcement. You also can report the scam to BBB.org/ScamTracker.