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Watching Out for Hawaii’s Consumers

Unfortunately, scams can range a wide variety of fields, from not only mortgage and credit card schemes but also fraud scams that claim to prevent, treat, or cure health conditions and scams targeting immigrants seeking to become citizens. For the many hardworking people in Hawaii and across our country, scams and identity theft continue to threaten the most wary of consumers.

Below is a listing of resources on issues such as foreclosure prevention, scams, and money management. For additional information on how Congresswoman Hirono can help Hawaii’s consumers, read her MaziEmail or click here to submit a request for help.

Foreclosure Prevention, Modification Scams, Housing Resources

·         Be aware of modification scam companies who promise to get you a loan modification for a fee. Only your lender/loan servicer can offer you a loan modification. To report alleged scammers, visit or

·         Act 48, Hawaii’s new foreclosure law regarding non-judicial foreclosures and the Mortgage Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Program within the State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA)

·         Making Home Affordable program for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned mortgages

·         The National Mortgage Settlement for mortgages other than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans

·         Hawaii Attorney General David Louie’s highlights of the Joint State-Federal Mortgage Servicing Case Settlement

·         The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) website offers more information on the national mortgage settlement at


·         In April 2011, the OCC, the Federal Reserve, and the Office of Thrift Supervision took action against the 14 large mortgage servicers. If your primary residence was involved in a foreclosure process between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, you may qualify for a free Independent Foreclosure Review

·         The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has developed a Foreclosure Prevention Tool Kit which includes resources on how mortgage modification programs can help and how to handle foreclosure rescue scams


Certified Housing Counselors

There are HUD-approved non-profit housing counselors here in Hawaiʻi who provide FREE foreclosure prevention services. Contact any one of the following HUD-certified, non-profit housing counselors for free foreclosure prevention services: 

·         Legal Aid Society of Hawaii
Intake Hotline: 536-4302

·         Hawaii HomeOwnership Center
Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii Island: 523-9500

·         Hale Mahaolu Homeownership and Housing Counseling
Maui, Molokai, and Lanai: 872-4100

·         Hawaiian Community Assets
Oahu, Kauai, and Molokai: 587-7886
Maui and Lanai: 760-510
Hawai‘i Island: 934-0801

·         Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Hawaii
Foreclosure counseling
Bankruptcy counseling
Oahu: 532-3225
Maui, Molokai, and Lanai: 242-8399
Kauai and Hawaii Island: 969-7136

Resources on Avoiding Fraud Scams

·         Watch Health Fraud Scams – Be Smart, Be Aware, Be Careful and learn how to avoid falling for a health fraud scam

·         The National Consumer Protection Week website has a page dedicated to scam and fraud alert, including the grandparent scam and scams against immigrants

·         Scam artists also target investors by posing as a stockbroker or investment advisor. Scams and Swindles: An Educational Guide to Avoiding Investment Fraud was developed by the National Futures Association to describe common types of investment  scams and how to avoid them

·         The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a site to report fraud, waste, and abuse regarding email scams, mortgages, credit cards, credit report, bank accounts, and other financial products and services

Medicare Fraud 

·         To report Medicare fraud, contact:

o   Office of the Inspector General, US Department of Health and Human Services

Hotline: 1-800-447-8477

o   Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP Hawaii)

Phone: 808-586-7281
Toll free: 1-800-286-9422

·         To report Medicaid fraud, contact:

o   For fraud committed by providers, contact the Department of the Attorney General, State of Hawaii Medicaid Fraud Control Unit

Phone: 808-586-1058

o   For fraud committed by recipients, contact the Department of Human Services

State of Hawaii Recipient Hotline: 808-587-8444

·         Complaints about a health insurance plan or insurance agent/broker

o   Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs

State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection: 808-586-2630
Insurance Division Insurance Fraud Investigation Branch: 808-586-2790

·         Complaints about vendors selling health care products

o   Better Business Bureau of Hawaii

Phone: 808-536-6956
Toll free: 1-877-222-6551

·         “Healthcare Fraud is a Family Matter”

·         “Stop Medicare Fraud”

·         “Don’t Be a Target of Healthcare Fraud”

·         “Medicare Fraud & Abuse”


Resources on Handling Identity Theft

To help you repair the damage and reduce the risk of identity theft happening to you, please visit the following websites:

·         The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, prepared the guide, Taking Charge: What To Do If Your Identity is Stolen

·         The Consumer Federation of America developed and identity theft quizzes to see how prepared you are.

· provides information on uncovering tax-related identity theft

·         If a taxpayer receives an IRS notice indicating identity theft, they should follow the instructions in that notice. A taxpayer who believes they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information should immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. Visit: and use search term “theft.”

·         Free Tax Return Preparation for You by Volunteers,,id=107626,00.html

Resources on Credit Repair and Money Management

·         The NAACP and the Federal Trade Commission are working together to provide information on money management techniques, the business side of consumer protection, and other resources.

·         The Federal Trade Commission tells you what you need to know if you’re looking to reach out to a debt relief firm or a company that promises to repair your credit.






·         The Consumer Federation of America offers a credit score quiz to test your knowledge

·         The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) offers a Quick Guide for Consumers on Credit, Debit, and Prepaid Cards to learn what each card is, how it works and the consumer protections available

·         The FDIC also provide a Ten Things You Should Know about Debit, Credit, or Prepaid Cards list that may be helpful in planning your use of the various cards


Webinars on New Healthcare Law Tax Credits for Small Businesses

Mahalo to the many small businesses who participated in my recent small business webinars with the Small Business Majority. I hope these webinars were a good opportunity to learn what Hawaii’s Prepaid Healthcare Act and the federal Affordable Care Act mean for local small businesses. Some of the topics discussed:
  • Small business tax credits (available to businesses and tax-exempt organizations)—who’s eligible for them and how to claim them
  • The Hawaii Health Connector - our state health insurance exchange
  • Cost containment
  • Tools and resources available for small businesses interested in learning more about the law
If you weren't able to participate, here are some resources from the webinars:
1) Presentation slides
2) Webinar fact sheet
3) Audio from the Friday webinar