comscore Kokua Line: Hawaii Labor Department warns of scams targeting people who are unemployed | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Hawaii Labor Department warns of scams targeting people who are unemployed

Question: I got a text from “Hawaii Department of Job & Family Services” to fix my unemployment claim. Is this legit from the state office?

Answer: No. Don’t click on any links within the text or provide any personal information. The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, which oversees unemployment services in Hawaii, has received at least one report of a similar apparent scam and is investigating, said Bill Kunstman, a department spokesman.

DLIR issued an urgent message for claimants to avoid being defrauded by this or other phishing or impersonation scams, which could trick claimants into giving up personal information used to steal their identity or money.

In the case reported to DLIR, the text said, “We noticed an error in your Unemployment Claim. Click (apparent impersonation link) to review your claim. Hawaii Department of Job & Family Services.” The link took the user to an apparent replica of the DLIR home page, Kunstman said. The URL, or web address, was incorrect, ending in .com rather than .gov, among other discrepancies.

The text was first reported to the state Department of Human Services, which alerted the DLIR, he said. Hawaii doesn’t have a Department of Job & Family Serv­ices in its state government.

While DLIR staffers will call claimants to follow up on unemployment claims, they wouldn’t text them in such a manner, Kunstman said. He did not know how widely the text had circulated. “We want people to be on the lookout for this sort of thing and report it,” he said.

In its urgent message about unemployment insurance fraud, issued Monday, the DLIR told Hawaii claimants:

>> The only portal for unemployment insurance benefits is at

>> The DLIR does not have social media accounts except Twitter (@HI_DLIR, which it uses to share broad information, not respond to specific claims).

>> DLIR employees are prohibited from using social media to assist claimants.

>> The DLIR never charges a fee for unemployment services. “We do not solicit payments on social media. If you are asked to pay a fee for these serv­ices, DO NOT PAY the fee and report this to the DLIR” by calling 762-5751 or 762-5752 and choosing option 4.

>> Never share your Social Security number on social media or with nontrusted sources.

>> For accurate information regarding Unemployment Insurance in Hawaii, only use trusted resources. “Avoid social media groups or outside entities that claim to be able to assist you. If the option is not listed on, it may be a scam or could be used for fraudulent activity,” the news release from the DLIR said.

The veracity of information available online varies widely, including in social media groups.

While some claimants waste time seeking answers that are readily available on the DLIR website, others rely on the collective wisdom of fellow claimants for information they can’t find anywhere else. We’ve heard from plenty of readers who swear by the help they’ve received from the Hawaii Unemployment Updates & Support Group, a Facebook group with more than 27,000 members whose moderators post announcements of wide interest.

Q: Will the state automatically amend those Hawaii state tax returns that were filed before the American Rescue Plan was enacted? In particular, the first $10,200 of 2020 unemployment benefits is now nontaxable on the federal return. This will reduce the federal AGI (adjusted gross income) that was reported on the Hawaii state tax return and might now lessen the state taxes that were already paid. In short, I may have paid more than what is owed.

A: No. the state Department of Taxation said it will not automatically amend or adjust returns to accommodate provisions of the American Rescue Plan. If the reduction in your federal AGI is based on the federal unemployment exclusion, you must add the $10,200 back to federal AGI to compute Hawaii AGI, it said.

Also, that amount is excluded from federal taxable income only for taxpayers who meet income restrictions.

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

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