Stop scams on Safer Internet Day — and everyday

Hawaiian Electric
3 min readFeb 7

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by Dan Kaneko | Feb. 7, 2023

One morning early into the new year, I received a text message from someone claiming to be Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. Upon receiving the text message, I was surprised by how personalized the message seemed but questioned its legitimacy.

While the text message addressed me by name, it was unusual to receive a text message from Shelee on my personal cell phone, especially since I wasn’t expecting her to contact me. I also noticed that the message came from an outside area code, which is an easily identifiable red flag because all Hawaii phone numbers use the same 808 area code.

Rather than responding to the text, I took a screenshot and emailed it to our company’s cybersecurity team in case others in the company had been receiving the same text message. A few hours later, my suspicions were confirmed when a company-wide email was sent out to remind employees to be on alert for phishing attempts, citing a circulating text message from someone claiming to be Shelee — the same text message I received earlier that day.

The phishing attempt specifically targeted Hawaiian Electric employees, and it made me realize how much more sophisticated scammers are becoming. I often hear stories about customers getting scammed by impersonators pretending to be from Hawaiian Electric, but this was the first time I was on the receiving end of a more personalized phishing attempt. I wondered how the scammer had my name, personal cell phone number, and knew that I worked for Hawaiian Electric. It was a rather unpleasant reminder that much of our personal information is easily accessible on the internet, and we can never be too careful about protecting ourselves from cyberthreats. So, to commemorate Safer Internet Day, I thought it’d be appropriate to share some cybersecurity tips to safeguard yourself from the dangers of the internet.

  • Be skeptical of any voicemail, text or email that asks you to do something out of the ordinary. If there are any doubts, verify that the message or email is legitimate before taking action.
  • Don’t click on any link in a message that asks you to verify details about your login and password, and do not download any unverified documents.
  • Contact your company’s cybersecurity administrator if you receive any suspicious emails or text messages.
  • Change your passwords regularly, use a strong one, never share it, and use multi-factor authentication when it’s available.
  • Check for software updates regularly and update your devices to the latest software.
  • If you’re making a payment online, check the website’s URL and make sure it’s legitimate.
  • Use a reputable third-party payment processor, like Paypal, if it’s available.
  • Avoid online shopping or dealing with sensitive information, like bank accounts, when using a public Wi-Fi network.
  • Limit the personal information you share on social media websites and check your privacy settings to limit who has access to your social media posts.

For more information and tips on fraud awareness, visit hawaiianelectric.com/stopscams.

Dan Kaneko is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.

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Hawaiian Electric

Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric is committed to empowering its customers and communities by providing affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy.