Beware of scammers in the wake of Florence

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    COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs is warning the public of scams following Hurricane Florence.

    According to a news release from SCDCA, you should keep in mind the following to protect your personal information and money:

    • Seek out a charity that needs your support. Be cautious of groups that approach you. Get more information on a particular charity by visiting the SC Secretary of State’s Office here to search on a particular charity or by calling 1-888-242-7484.
    • Donate to well-known charities. Watch out for charities that have sprung up overnight. Do not assume a charity is legitimate based on its name. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
    • Know where your money is going. Ask what percentage of your contribution goes to the charitable cause. Find out their mission and history. Do not be afraid to ask for details in writing.
    • Do not give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check.
    • Be wary of emails, texts and pop-ups you did not solicit. Do not reply to requests asking for personal or financial information, click on or paste links into your browser.
    • Do not provide personal or financial information to cold callers (phone, e-mail or text). This includes your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers. Scam artists can use this information to commit fraud. When in doubt, cutoff the communication.
    • Feeling pressured? Fraudsters often use high pressure tactics or create a sense of urgency to get you to take their bait. Take pause and calm down so you can think clearly before acting.
    • Follow up. Verify the validity of the communication by contacting the organization directly, with contact information that you have found in the phone book or by going to the company’s website. Scammers often pose as legit businesses to gain your trust.
    • Use antivirus or anti-spyware software and a firewall. Make sure to update them regularly. Phishing emails may contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the internet.

    For more tips on how to spot potential scams, click here. Consumers can also report scams by calling 844-835-5322 or by visiting www.consumer.sc.gov and clicking “Report a Scam.”

    Copyright 2018 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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