Police report telephone ‘spoofing’ scam

The Hawaii Police Department said there is a telephone ‘spoofing’ incident in which scammers are using a police station number attempting to obtain confidential information from residents.

Today, according to police, a woman in Honokaa reported she received a call from a man with a foreign accent identifying himself as a representative of the Social Security Administration. The caller asked her for personal information including her Social Security number. According to the woman, the man said if she didn’t provide the provide the number, he would send police officers to her house to arrest her. The woman told police her caller ID showed the Honokaa police station telephone number, which seemed to add validity to the call.

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“Spoofing” occurs when callers make it appear as if their phone calls are coming from a different number. The call recipient sees the caller ID and believes the call to be from the true owner of the number when it isn’t. This tactic is popular among telemarketers.

As a general rule of thumb, if you cannot verify the caller’s identity or you do not know who they are, do not release any personal information to them.

“We want the public to be aware of these fraudulent calls,” said Officer Luke Watkins. “Everyone needs to be diligent in protecting themselves from telephone scammers.”

If the call is from the Social Security Administration, the caller will already know your Social Security number.

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Police recommend to “be a good witness” — remember to note down information about the call, take notice of the caller (accent, gender, specific words used), verify the caller or number called from.

If in doubt, call police nonemergency number at 935-3311.

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