State Warns Public About Email, Phone Scam

September 21, 2012, 1:12 PM HST · Updated September 21, 2:59 PM
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Hawaii Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. File photo.

By Sonia Isotov

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is warning the public about a phishing scam involving an imposter posing as an investigator from DCCA’s Real Estate Branch.

DCCA has received credible information that emails and at least one phone call were made to real estate licensees asking for personal information. The Real Estate Branch wants the public to know that its employees do not request personal information, such as driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers, by phone or over the internet.

“This phishing scam was brought to the attention of DCCA by alert licensees who contacted the department to verify the identity of the sender and to report possible foul play,” said Keali’i Lopez, the director of the DCCA, in a written statement.

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“We are sharing this information with the public to prevent others from being victimized by unscrupulous identity thieves.”

Keali`i Lopez, director of the DCCA. Photo courtesy of Hawaii News Now.

Phishing scams involve the use of emails that appear to be from a legitimate entity. In fact, the emails are from imposters who are attempting to trick the recipient into surrendering private information that can be used for identity theft. Scammers will often use website addresses with names that are very similar to the web addresses of well-known organizations.

The public is being cautioned to be wary of any unsolicited email or calls that request personal information, even if they appear to come from a familiar agency or company. In the email involving DCCA, the sender used an email address that had a “hawaii-gov.us” suffix.

If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the Real Estate Branch and requesting personal information, please contact the Real Estate Branch by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 586-2643.

As impersonating a public servant is a crime in Hawai’i, the DCCA has forwarded this matter to the Department of the Attorney General and the FBI.

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