SC Department of Consumer Affairs warns of Hurricane Harvey scams

The S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs is advising consumers to be on the lookout for fake charities that say they are helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The department offered a series of tips to avoid scams via a press release Wednesday:

1. Seek out a charity — Be cautious of groups that approach you, the release states. Obtain information on a particular charity by visiting the S.C. Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.sc.gov/Public_Charities or by calling 803-734-1790.

2. Donate to well-known charities — Watch out for charities that have sprung up overnight, the release states. Do not assume a charity is legitimate based on its name. Some phony charities use names similar to those of respected, legitimate organizations.

3. Know who’s calling — During a call, a professional solicitor must disclose that they are a paid solicitor, the release states. They also must give the name, location and purpose of the charity. It says the caller must use the registered, true name of the professional fundraising organization for which they work.

4. Know where the money is going — Ask what percentage of your contribution goes to the charitable cause, it says. It says don’t be afraid to ask for details in writing.

5. Do not provide personal or financial information to cold callers — This information includes your social security number, credit card and bank account numbers, the release states.

6. Do not give or send cash — The release states that a check or credit card should be used for security and tax record purposes. The official name of the charity should be written on the check.

The S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education, the release states. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 800-922-1594.

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