November 2006

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The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs                                                                   November 2006
                                                                                                                    Volume 1
                                                                                                                    Issue 11

                                           onsumer                                                  lert
               Providing consumers with knowledge to make informed choices and decisions.

  Don’t Let These Unusual Credit Pitfalls Surprise You
   Most consumers know about the major                              have not.                    consumer should consider closing the
credit pitfalls – declaring bankruptcy,                                Another credit hit        account. Consumers should also pay close
unpaid bills, etc. – but there are a number                                     m o s t          attention to any fines or monetary penalties
of factors creditors take into account that                                     consumers        levied against them by local or state
might surprise most consumers.                                                  are        not   governments. If the fine is disputed in court
   One such surprise is credit card                                             aware of is      stay on top of any deadlines and always
companies that do not report their                                              the penalty      make sure the account is settled in full.
customer’s credit limits. Credit card                                           for library         Consumers are reminded their credit
companies that engage in this practice are                                      fines and late   score is based on a number of factors,
trying to shield their best clients, who have                       parking tickets.             including but not limited to:
the highest credit limit, from other credit         Local governments are more often             • Types of credit used: This includes credit
card companies.                                  turning to private collection agencies in an    cards, installment loans, mortgages, bank
   Instead of releasing the consumer’s           effort to recoup outstanding fines for such     loans, and any other form of credit account.
credit limit they instead give the highest       things as library fines, parking tickets, and   • Payment History: This includes payments
balance a customer has charged as a              traffic penalties. These agencies typically     you are currently making, as well as any
substitute for the limit. This, however,         report the unpaid amount to credit              missed or late payments.
harms the consumer because it shows a            bureaus, which of course factors into your      • Outstanding Debt: What do you have
disproportionately high debt utilization         credit score.                                   left that you owe?
ratio, which is how much of the allotted            Consumers should protect themselves          • Length of Credit History: How long
credit available a customer is using. In         by asking their credit card company if they     have you had credit?
short, it makes it appear the customer has       release their maximum credit limit. If the      • New Credit: What new credit accounts
maxed out their card when in reality they        credit card company does not, the               have you started?
Consumer Affairs Is Now Responsible for Preneed Funeral Contracts
  The oversight of preneed funeral               and services prior to death. In order           working with the industry.”
contracts has been transferred to the            to protect consumers, the law                      South Carolina funeral directors
South Carolina Department of                     requires that the contracts be backed           will continue to be regulated by the
C o n s u m e r A ff a i r s . T h e S o u t h   by a trust account with a bank or with          Board of Funeral Services at the
Carolina General Assembly approved               an insurance policy issued through a            Department of Labor, Licensing &
a measure giving the SCDCA                       licensed insurance company.                     Regulation. If you have questions or
authority to regulate preneed burial                Danny Collins, Deputy of                     would like to know more about preneed
contracts.                                       Regulatory Enforcement for SCDCA                burial service contact SCDCA, at
  More and more South Carolina                   said, “The Department is trying to              (803) 734-4236 or 1-800-922-1594,
consumers are entering into preneed              make the transition as smooth as                or    visit     our   website      at
contracts to purchase funeral goods              possible and is looking forward to    
                                                                                                                                                                                              Know an exemplary
                                Going Blind To Look Good                                                                                                                                      consumer advocate?
                                Cosmetic contact lenses can be bad for your eyes
 Gonococcal Conjunctivitis
 Courtesy, Pacific University
 College of Optometry
                                                                                                                                                                                              Nominate them!
    The demand for cosmetic contact                                                                                                   not professionally prescribed, including          Nominations are now being accepted for
 lenses continues to increase, particularly                                                                                           but not limited to: eye infection, corneal    the 2007 Consumer Spirit Awards.
 among teenage girls and young women.                                                                                                 swelling, allergic reaction, corneal                                                    The            annual
 Colored contact lenses are one of the                                                                                                abrasion, contrast sensitivity, eyesight                                           awards are given to
 fastest growing segments of the contact                                                                                              reduction, sensitivity to light, and Tight                                         persons                  and
 lens industry. Demand for the cosmetic                                                                                               Lens Syndrome, where the lens actually                                             organizations that
 contact lenses, however, has created a                                                                                               begins to stick to the eye because it is                                           have demonstrated
 market for non-licensed vendors to sell                                                                                              too small. In the most severe cases health                                         exemplary concern
 the contacts without a prescription.                                                                                                 problems caused by these contacts can                                              for consumers
    Consumer should be cautious when                                                                                                  result in blindness or eye loss.                                                   through informative
 considering purchasing and using                                                                                                        The Right Way to Get Cosmetic                                                   services, advocacy
 cosmetic contacts. Consider the                                                                                                      Lenses:                                       programs, investigation of consumer issues,
 following:                                                                                                                              • Get an eye exam from a licensed          or through legislation.
    The Law: In S.C. it is illegal to sell                                                                                            professional.                                     The Consumer Spirit Awards are
 or dispense contact lenses without a                                                                                                    • Obtain a prescription that includes      separated into four categories: business,
 valid, current contact lens prescription                                                                                             the size, shape, power, and brand of          consumer, media, and legislative. Nominations
 from a licensed optometrist or                                                                                                       lenses. Many problems occur from              in each field will be judged on strategy,
 ophthalmologist, even if you are selling                                                                                             cosmetic contact lenses that are too small    execution, originality and creativity, and results.
 color contacts or special effect contacts                                                                                            and constrict the eyeball.                        Past winners include: Founders Federal
 for cosmetic reasons only.                                                                                                              • Follow instructions for cleaning and     Credit Union, Ann McGill, Margaret
    The Health Risks: There are                                                                                                       wearing the lens.                             Brackett, Dr. John C. Ruoff, and Jan L.
 several health risks associated with                                                                                                    • Schedule a follow-up appointment         Warner.
 wearing cosmetic contact lens that are                                                                                               with your eye care professional.                  A nomination application must be received
                                                                                                                                                                                    by SCDCA via e-mail or mail by 5 p.m. on
           Got Questions???                                                                                                           After Hours: Identity Theft December 15, 2006.
                                                ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Ask Consumer Affairs                                                                                                                  and Credit Repair on Nov. 11                      Nominations can be found online at
                                                                                                                                                                           or by mailing
   Think you have been a victim of a                                                                                                     The South Carolina Department of applications to: Consumer Spirit Award
scam or just need general information                                                                                                 Consumer Affairs will present a special Selection Committee, c/o PI&E, PO Box
about fraud protection?                                                                                                               session of After Hours on “Identity Theft 5757, Columbia, SC 29259.
   Then log on to Ask Consumer                                                                                                        and Credit Repair” from 10 a.m. to noon
Affairs, an interactive forum that                                                                                                    on November 11.                                The Commission on Consumer Affairs
provides you with great consumer                                                                                                         After Hours is an after business hours Dr. Lonnie Randolph Jr., Chair, Columbia
information. Visit the South Carolina                                                                                                 program aimed to educate South Carolina The Honorable Mark Hammond, Secretary of State,
Department of Consumer Affairs                                                                                                        consumers. After Hours is typically held Barbara B. League, Greenville
website at and                                                                                                     every third Tuesday of the month and Louis Mayrant Jr., Pineville
click on LIVE HELP.                                                                                                                   features free consumer education seminars. Rev. Tony Macomson, Cowpens
   A communication specialist is there                                                                                                   This month’s After Hours will focus on Wayne Keith Sims, Columbia
to assist you with any questions you                                                                                                  identity theft and credit repair. Specialists Wayne Powell, Gaffney
                                                                                                                                                                                      David Cambell, Columbia
may have Monday through Friday from                                                                                                   will be present to give advice on what to Carole C. Wells, Woodruff
8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Or you can                                                                                                  do if you feel you have been the victim of                ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

always reach us by phone at                                                                                                           identity theft, as well as credit counselors Brandolyn Thomas Pinkston, Administrator
                                                                                                                                                                                     Charles Ellison, Editor
803.734.4200 or toll free in S.C. at                                                                                                  to help answer any credit repair questions.
1.800.922.1594.                                                                                                                          After Hours is held at the SCDCA, About the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs:
   The SCDCA is located at 3600                                                                                                       located at 3600 Forest Drive, on the Established by the Consumer Protection Code in 1974, interest of
                                                                                                                                                                                     Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs represents the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the South

Forest Drive, on the corner of Forest                                                                                                 corner of Forest Drive and Beltline Blvd, Southinequities in the marketplace through to protect consumers
                                                                                                                                                                                            Carolina consumers. Our mission is
                                                                                                                                                                                     from                                      advocacy, meditation,
Drive and Beltline Blvd., directly across                                                                                             directly across from Richland Fashion enforcement, and education. For more information on the SCDCA,
from Richland Fashion Mall.                                                                                                           Mall. Light refreshments will be served.

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