The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is warning the public about a phishing scam involving an impostor posing as an investigator from the department's Real Estate Branch.
The department 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 said that its employees do not request personal information, such as driver's license and Social Security numbers, over the phone or 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 DCCA Director Keali'i Lopez. "We are sharing this information with the public to prevent others from being victimized by unscrupulous identity thieves."
Phishing scams involve the use of emails that appear to be from a legitimate entity. In fact, the emails are from impostors who are attempting to trick the recipient into surrendering private information that can be used for identity theft. Scammers often will use website addresses with names that are very similar to the Web addresses of well-known organizations.
Be wary of any unsolicited email or calls that request personal information, even if they appear to come from a familiar agency or company, the news release said.
In the email involving DCCA, the sender used an email address that had a "hawaii-gov.us" suffix.
Those who have been contacted by someone claiming to be from the Real Estate Branch and requesting personal information are asked to contact the branch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (808) 586-2643.