Live 5 Scambusters: Avoiding a disaster scam after recent hurricanes

Live 5 Scambusters: Avoiding a disaster scam after recent hurricanes

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - In the aftermath of Hurricanes Michael and Florence, you may be looking for ways to help. Take a moment to protect yourself so you don’t become a victim too.

South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs is warning everyone to beware of disaster scams. When it comes to helping others, everyone needs to be on the lookout for fake charities and imposters trying to take advantage of your generosity.

SCDCA has a few tips to avoid fake charities:

  • Don’t give to charities collecting money door-to-door.
  • Don’t give cash. This is for your own security and also for tax purposes.
  • Don’t give money to anyone who calls you on the phone asking for money.
  • Give to established and recognized charities.

Check out charities online through the Secretary of State’s office by calling 888-CHARITI or online at www.scsos.com.

“You want to make sure you’re taking a moment and thinking clearly before you decide who you want to give your money to or to contract with for services,” SCDCA Administrator Carri Grube Lybarker said. “That is exactly why the scam artists come out of the woodwork during these disasters. People are vulnerable, so they are more successful.”

The Federal Trade Commission has a handy graphic to verify hurricane relief charities before you send any money. You can find it and other helpful tools here. If you find something you think is a scam you can report it to FTC.gov/complaint.

The Federal Trade Commission released this graphic to help avoid disaster charity scams
The Federal Trade Commission released this graphic to help avoid disaster charity scams (FTC.gov)

If you would like to donate through the American Red Cross, click here for more information.

Anyone who did get damage should also beware. Scam artists may be posing as an aid worker, such as FEMA or an insurance company. Don’t give out credit card or bank information to someone who shows up at your house.

Home repair scams are another way you could be targeted. If your home was damaged, beware of anyone who shows up unsolicited.

  • Don’t pay anyone up front or in cash.
  • Check the person’s business license.
  • Get multiple bids and check references.
  • Make sure you have a detailed contract.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.

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