Got a call from the police? It may not be them

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The Hawaiʻi Police Department is warning island residents to be aware of a telephone ‘spoofing’ incident in which scammers used a police station number to make a call.

On Tuesday, (July 10) a telephone call was made to a female adult in Honokaʻa. She reported that a male party with a foreign accent identified himself as a representative of the Social Security Administration, and asked her for personal information, to include her social security number. He stated that if she did not provide the number, he would send police officers to her house to arrest her. The female stated that the number that showed up on her caller ID was the Honokaʻa Police Station telephone number, which seemed to add validity to the call.

‘Spoofing’ occurs when people 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 has been recently popularized by telemarketers.

Police ask the public to be aware of callers who ask for personal information over the telephone. 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 of Hāmākua Police.  “Everyone needs to be diligent in protecting themselves from telephone scammers.”

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 and when in doubt, call police for clarification using the Department’s non-emergency number (808) 935-3311. 

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