COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDA) is warning residents not to fall victim to the latest scams.

According to SCDA, scammers follow the latest headlines and tailor scams to fit the news cycle. Some popular scams ahead of summer 2022 include:

  • Baby formula scams – Scammers are taking advantage of the formula shortage impacting parents across the nation, often selling fake formula for extremely high prices. They also create fake websites to trick parents into buying products that are not actually in stock. SCDA advises residents to buy from trusted sources, read reviews, and use a credit card when buying online.
  • Disaster/storm scams – Hurricane season beings June 1 and scammers often pose as repair companies or government agencies, preying on those who have just been hit by a disaster. SCDA is reminding residents that government disaster relief never costs money, and to be suspicious of repair people who show up unannounced.
  • Financial aid and scholarship scams – As recent high school grads prepare to head off to college, financial aid and scholarships are top of mind. Scammers will often promise to get students significant financial aid for a processing fee, then just fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for the student. Students should not let anyone else fill out their FAFSA, nor should they ever pay for anything FAFSA related. In some cases, scammers lie on the form to get more aid, which can result in students being fined up to $20,000.
  • Travel scams – As with most things, if a vacation seems too good to be true, it probably is. Vacation scams include anything from “free” vacation offers to dirt-cheap vacation hotel/rental listings. Scammers often take photos and information from legitimate listings, which makes this type of scam even more difficult to spot. SCDA says to always read reviews, search for duplicate listings, and never send money via wire transfer or other unusual forms of payment.

According to SCDA, the three biggest red flags to look out for in any type of scam are: being pressured into making a fast decision, demanding an unusual form of payment, and offering a deal that seems too good to be true.