KODIAK — The Department of Transportation reported that fraudulent text messages were targeting Alaska Marine Highway passengers. However, the source of this report remains unclear.

The State Security Office alerted AMHS to fraudulent text messages targeting AMHS customers waiting for a refund due to canceled sailings, because of the ongoing Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific strike, according to a DoT news release.

These text messages instruct recipients to call a phone number. After dialing the phone number, recipients are then asked to provide a credit card number over the phone, according to the release.

The news release instructs passengers to report incidents by emailing infosec@alaska.gov or dialing 269-5000.

When KDM staff attempted to call the above number, they reached an automated system that did not clearly identify where to report AMHS related fraud attempts. Additionally, a website for the State Security Office could not be found.

According to Kodiak ferry terminal manager Amanda Becker, a memo was sent to her on Monday at about 5:30 p.m. from the State Security Office, bearing the Department of Administration letterhead. 

This is the first time she has received communication from the State Security Office. The memo was sent to Becker’s supervisor, who forwarded it to all terminals and employees of AMHS, she said. 

“We have not been told of any data breach,” Becker said, adding that she has not noticed any unusual activity on the AMHS website. 

Becker said that she received one call from a passenger in Homer who received a text similar to those described in the memo. As of Tuesday afternoon, that is the only case reported to the Kodiak terminal.

DoT Communications Director Meadow Bailey did not have any further information on the number of incidents or the source of the memo at the time of print.

According to the DoT news release, the text messages targeting ferry passengers are fraudulent and should be ignored or deleted. AMHS staff will never ask for credit card numbers when processing a refund. All refunds are automatically returned to the credit card used to purchase the fare.

Becker said she was told to pass out the information regarding the possible fraud to as many individuals as possible to ensure that passengers aren’t affected.

“Hopefully, we nip this in the bud,” Becker said.

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