MEO phone numbers may be victimized by spoofing

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October 14, 2021

Maui Economic Opportunity warns the public that some of its phone numbers are being spoofed by scammers.

Caller ID numbers are being manipulated to appear that the calls are coming from MEO, when in fact the calls are scammers. If the calls are answered, scammers will use scam scripts to try to steal money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity, the Federal Communication Commission website says.

MEO does not have a way to block spoofers. Clients of MEO could let calls go to voicemail or block the number and communicate by calling a legitimate MEO phone number themselves or using email. Numbers can be found on the MEO website, www.meoinc.org, or in the phone book.

Lt. Audra Sellers of the Maui Police Department Community Relations Section said that callers who receive a scam phone call can contact the department’s nonemergency number at (808) 244-6400 and dial 0 at the recording for the operator.

She also reminded those who receive spoofing calls not to provide any personal information. They also can report the scam to the Federal Communications Commission at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=39744.

The FCC offered the following tips on spoofed calls.

  • Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
  • If you answer the phone and the caller – or a recording – asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
  • Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
  • Never give out personal information, such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company, a government agency or a nonprofit, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement or correspondence, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
  • If you have a voicemail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voicemail if you do not set a password.
  • Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device. The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls by default based on reasonable analytics. More information about robocall blocking is available at gov/robocalls.
  • Remember to check your voicemail periodically to make sure you aren’t missing important calls and to clear out any spam calls that might fill your voicemail box to capacity.

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