COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is urging consumers to prepare as Hurricane Dorian approaches. Whether you are in an evacuation zone or not, there are steps you can take to reduce the stress caused by this weather emergency.
- Organize your finances. Collect your most recent financial and identification documents and keep them in safe, dry place. Be prepared to take them with you.
- Review your insurance policies. Become familiar with the types and levels of coverage you have. Consider taking an inventory of valuables in case you need to file a claim. Research whether your policies cover temporary shelter, replacement clothing or other items in the event of a disaster.
- Read SCEMD’s Hurricane Guide. The guide provides information on evacuation zones and routes, official communication channels that provide emergency alerts and much more.
- Be on the lookout for price gouging. Report excessively priced items like food, gas and lodging to local police and the Office of the Attorney General. Email reports to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (803) 737-3953. For more information, see the Attorney General’s webpage on price gouging.
Consumers looking to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian should also be on the lookout for scams. Fraudsters often spring into action when disaster strikes. Keep the following in mind 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 charity by visiting the SC Secretary of State’s Office at www.sos.sc.gov to search a charity by name or call 1 (888) CHARITI (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.
For more information on disasters, see SCDCA’s guide to Recovering from a Disaster and Beware of Disaster Scams.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 1 (800) 922-1594.