What are Hawaii Phone Scams?
Hawaii phone scams are illegal activities perpetrated over the phone to steal money and personal information from the state residents. Phone scammers usually prey on their targets' fears or take advantage of their ignorance to dupe them. Fraudsters use all forms of telephone services to trick Islanders into getting their sensitive information to commit identity and financial thefts. They often conceal their identities while taking up those of legitimate businesses to earn targets' trust. Websites that provide reverse phone lookup services can help retrieve scammers' identities and prevent you from falling prey to phone frauds.
Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is the state primary agency that investigates and prosecutes incidents of deceptive practices, including phone scams. The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP), a division of the DCCA, protects the interests of consumers by educating them regarding their rights. Residents who wish to file formal complaints of scam calls with the OCP should submit completed complaint forms by mail to:
Leiopapa A Kamehameha Building
235 South Beretania Street, Suite 801
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
They can also call the OCP on (808) 586-2630 to report cases of phone scams. Alternatively, Islanders who are victims of scams can register reports of such incidents online to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The top phone scams in the State of Hawaii include:
- Chinese-American Scams - Fraudsters pretend to be employees of the Chinese Consulate and target the Chinese-American community in a bid to rip them off.
- Sweepstakes Scams - Targets get a call from unknown persons claiming that they are selected to win some phony prizes. They, however, must pay specific fees to lay claims on the winnings.
- IRS Scams - These scams are targeted at taxpayers to cheat them out of their money. They are quite rampant in Hawaii.
- Tech Support Scams - Fraudsters claim to be with their targets' computer companies to steal money and obtain confidential information from victims' computers using various deceptive tactics.
- Government Grant Scams - Persons who pretend to be with a government agency in charge of grants fool their targets by offering them financial grants in a bid to cheat them out of money.
- Debt Collection Scams - Fraudsters impersonate employees of debt collection agencies and employ threats to collect money from people who do not even owe money to anyone.
- Debt Relief Scams - Scammers promise their targets debt reliefs, but they must pay some fee upfront to access them. In other instances, they request personal information during the calls with their targets.
- Employment Scams - Con artists call to offer their targets employment opportunities and then ask for money to secure such jobs. Paying to get a job is a red flag, especially if it is happening over the phone.
What are Hawaii Chinese Scams?
In these scams, fraudsters impersonate the Chinese Consulate and target Chinese immigrants in Hawaii to extort them. Most of their calls appear legitimate because they can make Caller IDs display the number of an actual Chinese Consulate through phone spoofing. The callers often inform their marks that they are being investigated for financial crimes in China and need them to cooperate or risk deportation. To curtail the issues, the scammers will offer to help the targets out and then request that they wire money to them or purchase gift cards. In some cases, the callers will even ask for credit card details and some other sensitive information that can be used to commit identity theft.
The Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) warns anyone receiving such calls never to send money or share confidential information with the callers. Reverse phone lookup services can help you identify spoofed calls and avoid this scam. Persons who are victims of Chinese scams can contact the OCP at (808) 586-2630 to file their complaints. Know that the Chinese Consulate will never solicit money over the phone.
What are Hawaii Debt Collection Scams?
Debt collection agencies typically buy delinquent debts from creditors and then go after debtors to recover such debts. However, it is not all debt collection activity that is legal. Scammers pretend to be employees of familiar and legitimate collection agencies and accuse their targets of owing money even when they are not. The callers usually threaten to arrest them or reveal such debts to their employers or loved ones if they fail to pay in a short timeline. Some of them sound convincing when they call and demand unusual payment methods. Their preferred payment options include gift cards, mailed cash, and wire transfer.
If you receive this type of call and know that you owe money, ask the caller for in-depth information about your debt. You can ask questions like the name of the creditor and the exact amount owed. If they cannot provide such details during the call, they are possibly scammers. Do not succumb to the pressure of sending money, especially if you do not owe anyone or a creditor. Phone lookup applications can return information on these callers to let you know if they are who they claim to be. Hawaii residents can report incidents of these scams online to the FTC or submit completed complaint forms to the Office of Consumer Protection.
What are Hawaii Government Grant Scams?
Running numbers of suspicious callers who claim you are qualified for government grants through reverse phone lookup websites can help you avoid scams. Scammers sometimes contact Hawaii residents and claim to be with some federal government agencies in charge of grant administration. They use names that sound official to fool their targets into sending money or getting them to disclose personal information. During such calls, they will inform their marks about their eligibility to receive government grants that they will never have to pay back. To take advantage of the “rare opportunity”, the callers will request information such as social security numbers and bank account details. Additionally, the scammers will ask for processing fees to enable them to conclude the process. These scammers favor payment by wire transfer and prepaid debit cards.
The FTC warns the public never to pay anyone who promises a free government grant. Legitimate grant agencies do not solicit money from residents to process grants. Do not share your personal information if you receive this type of call. You can verify the caller's claim by looking up their agency name to know if they exist. Victims of government grant scams in Hawaii can register their complaints with the OCP by calling (808) 586-2630 or file complaints online with the FTC.
What are Hawaii Sweepstakes Scams?
Sweepstakes scams are frauds in which scammers capitalize on people's eagerness to win fabulous prizes. The most surprising thing about this scheme is how individuals who never entered any contest fall prey. The callers usually pose as agents of legitimate sweepstakes companies and tell targeted Islanders that they have won big contests. They go further and inform them to pay some fees to enable them to process their winnings. These scammers usually request payment by bitcoins, gift cards, or wire transfer.
Residents of Hawaii should know that they do not have to pay money to claim winnings in any contest. Anyone who contacts you with this type of claim is a scammer. Older Hawaii residents are usually the targets of this scam in the state. Residents can report sweepstakes scams by contacting the FTC at 1 (888) 382-1222.
How Do I Avoid Becoming a Victim of a Phone Scam?
- Know that anyone can be a victim of a scam call. Hence, always exercise caution when answering calls from numbers you do not recognize. If you realize that a call is a scam call, hang up immediately.
- Never be pressured into sending money or disclosing sensitive information over the phone, most especially if it was not you that initiated the call.
- Report suspicious calls to your local law enforcement agency. You can also file complaints of dubious calls online with the FTC.
- Register your number on the DNC Registry to avoid telemarketing scams. These are scams perpetrated using unsolicited calls. Call 1 (888) 382-1222 from the number you wish to enroll and follow the prompts. Any robocall that you get after 31 days of putting your number on the list is a potential scam. Ignore them by all means.
- Install call-blocking applications on your cell phone to block identified scam numbers from future calls. You can also set your phone to notify you of only phone calls by numbers in your contact list. Doing this will silence incoming calls from unknown numbers. Such callers will leave messages for you if they are vital and legitimate.