Shop smart for the holidays

COLUMBIA – Black Friday, Cyber Monday and general shopping deals create quite the buzz this time of year. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is encouraging consumers to consider these tips before emptying out your wallet for the holidays:

  1. Use comparison sites. Comparison sites allow consumers to compare retailers, products, and models as well as compare different brands and prices. Consider using a smartphone in store to determine if that deal is too good to pass up.
  2. Watch out for sales gimmicks. Free trials, samples, discounts and more are often offered for signing up for a credit card or new service. Avoid making rash decisions while shopping and read the terms and conditions of any offer carefully.
  3. Read the fine print. Whether you are buying a product through layaway or making a major purchase decision, always read the fine print before signing. Look for payment dates, fees, return or warranty policies of the product; knowing these details could save you a headache down the line if something goes wrong.
  4. Cash, debit or credit? Consider using cash to stay on budget and avoid the fees and charges that may come from using a credit card. But, if shopping online, always use a credit or gift card. Using a credit card protects a consumer’s bank account and offers less liability if erroneous/fraudulent charges are not reported in a timely manner.
  5. Consider the network and site security. When shopping online, using an unsecured network like free, public Wi-Fi can allow thieves to steal information with little effort. Use secured, password protected networks when shopping online and always check for the “https://” or a lock icon in the address bar. The “s” stands for secure and indicates that information is being protected while transmitted. Both security measures will help keep your information out of thieves’ hands.

 To report a scam or for more information on defending against scams call our Identity Theft Unit at 1 (844) TELL DCA (835-5322) or visit and click the Identity Theft Unit tab.

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 or call toll-free in SC: 1 (800) 922-1594.

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