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Our complaint system is currently down as of December 2, 2022. We apologize for the inconvenience. Department staff is available to assist with any questions at (800) 922-1594 (toll-free in SC) or 803-734-4200 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding State holidays. You can also email general questions to scdca@scconsumer.gov.

Prepare for Hurricane Ian and Disaster Scams

Thu, 09/29/2022

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is urging consumers to prepare as Hurricane Ian 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 a 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.
  • Create a plan with the help of SCEMD’s Hurricane Guide. The guide provides guidance on what supplies to have, evacuation zones and routes, official communication channels that provide emergency alerts and much more. You can even download it in app form to keep on your mobile device for alerts and checklists.
  • 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 pricegouging@scag.gov, 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 Ian should also be on the lookout for scams. Fraudsters take advantage of the headlines when disaster strikes. Keep the following in mind to protect your personal information and money:

  • Watch for government imposters. Some scammers will travel to disaster areas acting as government agencies, like FEMA or SCEMD, to seem more official. Don’t be afraid to ask for identification. Don’t be afraid to cut off contact with someone who is asking for personal identifying information like your Social Security number or financial information. When possible, call the government agency directly to ask for help or more information.
  • Research to find a real charity that needs help. Be suspicious of groups that approach you for donations or seem to appear out of nowhere. Do not assume a charity is legitimate based on its name; some fake charities use names that sound or look like those of well-known organizations. Research a charity before giving 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).
  • Do not send uncommon forms of payment. If someone is requesting you donate by gift card, cryptocurrency or wire transfer, this is a sign of a scam. The safest ways to donate money are credit card and check. If paying by check, write the official name of the charity on your check.
  • Report disaster scams. If you encounter a disaster scam, you can report it to SCDCA by visiting the Scams webpage or calling 1 (844) TELL-DCA (835-5322).

For more information on disasters, see SCDCA’s guide to Recovering from a Disaster and Beware of Disaster Scams.