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Posted on Jun 9, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU — Scammers are impersonating state and federal officials and are taking the deception one step further by spoofing the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Professional and Vocational and Licensing Division’s phone number on caller ID to make the call more convincing. The scam involves intimidating the licensee into divulging personal information, accepting information through a fax machine, and/or wiring funds internationally for fees, by claiming that an out-of-state incident involving their license has placed their license in jeopardy, and that they are under investigation by both the State and Department of Justice.

The Professional and Vocational Licensing Division recently received reports of fake calls to a licensed massage therapist and dentist using the Licensing Branch phone number. It is likely scammers will attempt to do this across all industries, so it urges all Hawaii licensees to be vigilant.

With any suspicious phone call, licensees are advised to hang up before revealing any personal information and initiate a return phone call by calling a number researched on their own (see, rather than relying on the caller ID, to ensure that they are speaking with the actual agency. A professional or vocational licensee that is under investigation by the department would first be notified in writing from the Regulated Industries Complaints Office (RICO), which is not affiliated with any out-of-state agency or task force.  Notices from RICO are sent on official letterhead and include contact information for all RICO offices.   RICO will also never ask for private or sensitive information over the telephone, or ask you to wire funds, or verbally tell a licensee that their license has been suspended.  Only the Board has the authority to suspend a license through official, written action.  If you are unsure about whether your license is under investigation or in jeopardy, please contact RICO’s Consumer Resource Center at (808) 587-4272.

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Media Contact:

Sheela Sharma
Information Specialist
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
[email protected]
(808) 586-5967