Whether you are buying back-to-school items for virtual or in-person school attendance, take advantage of tax-free weekend this weekend, August 7-9, 2020. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is encouraging consumers to navigate this shopping weekend with a thoughtful plan involving the following tips:
• Be on-guard as you shop online. Because of Coronavirus, you may be looking to do your back-to-school shopping online. SCDCA has compiled five ways to keep your information safe while browsing and buying online.
• Check mask ordinances, guidelines and store offerings before heading out. If you choose to shop in-store, double check for mask ordinances in the city/county the store is located so you can be prepared. Many stores offer delivery or curbside pick-up to simplify your shopping trip. Make sure to read the terms and conditions to find out if there are any fees associated with these extra services.
• Decide your payment method. When shopping in a store, pay with cash if you have trouble sticking to a budget. If you prefer shopping online, a credit card offers more consumer fraud protections than a debit card.
• Make a list and stick to it. Review the Department of Revenue’s (SCDOR) website for a general list of items that are tax exempt as well as ones that are not. A list will help save time and avoid impulse buying and overspending.
• Know the return policy. Review return and exchange policies online so you know before you go. Don’t see it in store? Ask, especially if you are purchasing items that often have a restocking fee, like computers.
• Review financial statements. Security breaches often happen during heavily trafficked shopping times. Read your financial statements during the tax-free weekend and beyond, ensuring there are no errors or fraudulent charges. If there are, dispute them immediately.
Consumers with questions about the tax-free weekend should visit the SCDOR website dedicated to the sales tax holiday. For more consumer tips, or to get assistance if you find suspicious charges or errors on your accounts, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call SCDCA toll-free in SC at 1 (800) 922-1594.
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 www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 1 (800) 922-1594.