POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2013
~~<p><strong>Question: </strong>Are other people having problems with receiving texts that say their VISA card is being deactivated? I don’t even have a VISA card, but I got a message from the number 808-265-8376 telling me to call 808-221-3493 regarding my VISA card. If this is a scam, I’ll report it.</p>
Question: Are other people having problems with receiving texts that say their VISA card is being deactivated? I don’t even have a VISA card, but I got a message from the number 808-265-8376 telling me to call 808-221-3493 regarding my VISA card. If this is a scam, I’ll report it. Answer: This is another example of a “phishing”/“smishing” scam. (“Phishing” refers to attempts to get sensitive, personal information via emails, while “smishing” uses cellphone text messages.) “While this type of scam is certainly not uncommon, we have recently begun to receive an upswing in inquiries from consumers about this round of texts,” said Timothy Caminos, spokesman for the Hawaii Better Business Bureau. That’s because the con artists only recently began using local numbers as a ploy to gain access to people’s accounts. For many older people, this is a “particularly dangerous scam due to their trusting nature,” Caminos said. He explained that the text messages attempt to have you call a “hotline,” which is tied to a prepaid cellphone. “That cellphone is connected to a recording that is a ‘robot,’” Caminos said. The robot identifies itself as “Honolulu Federal Credit Union,” asking for your card number, PIN, expiration date and CVC number, or card security code. “No matter what numbers you enter the robot will ‘clear’ the number to be activated,” Caminos said. So don’t respond to any stranger asking for personal information. Check the Hawaii BBB website at hawaii.bbb.org, click on “Resource Library” for consumers, then “Scam Source” — to get information on myriad scams going on, as well as to report one. Question: We just bought a home which has a separate apartment. How can I legally rent this out? Answer: If you plan to rent the apartment for more than 30 days, you do not need to get approval from the city. The city’s rules on short-term rentals deal primarily with transient vacation units and bed and breakfast homes, said Art Challacombe, deputy director of the Department of Planning and Permitting. He explained that the city regulates only the vacation rental industry on Oahu. A short-term rental would be any unit that is rented for less than 30 days. “The owner must have a ‘Nonconforming Use Certificate’ to legally operate a short-term vacation rental,” Challacombe said. “Any unit rented out for more than 30 days is not considered a short-term vacation rental and is a permitted use.” For all dwellings, occupancy is limited to five unrelated people, or to a family plus three unrelated people, he said. For more information, call the department at 768-8000. Meanwhile, if you rent the apartment, you are required to pay the state’s general excise tax. “Generally, all monies received from rentals are subject to the general excise tax,” said Mallory Fujitani, spokeswoman for the state Department of Taxation. “Rentals for less than 180 days are also subject to the transient accommodations tax, unless they qualify for an exception.” Even if your rental may not conform to county zoning codes, “taxes on rental income must be paid,” she added. MAHALO To a man named Kerry, who held a military veteran by his legs after he attempted to jump over the railing on the fourth floor of the Ala Moana Center recently. I had tried to talk him down, holding his hand and talking about family and God until police arrived on the scene. God bless Kerry for saving a life. — Barbara/former clinical psychologist at Tripler Army Medical Center. ----- Write to “Kokua Line” at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email email@example.com.
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