Know Your Charities: Protect Yourself from Fraud in Wake of Harvey

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – As South Carolinians consider ways to donate to Hurricane Harvey victims, the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs is reminding you to be diligent.

Here are a few tips from the agency to ensure you don’t fall victim to fraud:

  • Seek out a charity: Be cautious of groups that approach you. Obtain information on a particular charity by visiting the SC Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.sc.gov/Public_Charities or by calling 803-734-1790.
  • 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 similar to those of respected, legitimate organizations.
  • Know who’s calling: During a call, a professional solicitor must disclose:
    • that they are a paid solicitor.
    • the name, location and purpose of the charity.
    • the registered, true name of the professional fundraising organization for which they work.
  • Know where the money is going: Ask what percentage of your contribution goes to the charitable cause. Find out their mission and history. Don’t be afraid to ask for details in writing.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to cold callers: This includes your Social Security number, credit card and bank account numbers. Scam artists can use this information to commit fraud. When in doubt, hang up!
  • 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.
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