South Carolina Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

From the days of trade and barter to modern e-commerce, it’s always been the same tug of war in the market. Buyers want to get the best deal, and sellers are trying to make the most profit. And as long as both sides of the transaction are honest, this works pretty well. But every now and then sellers will make false claims about their products or use disingenuous tactics in order to entice sales, like misrepresenting a discount or hiding defects on a used product.

These shady business tactics are legally referred to as “deceptive trade practices” and fortunately for Palmetto State consumers, there are laws designed to protect buyers from false advertising and other dubious sales tactics. Here are the basics of deceptive trade practice laws in South Carolina.

Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

As a state, South Carolina has not yet adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Instead, this kind of consumer misinformation is handled under the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practice Act. The chart below highlights some of South Carolina’s, deceptive trade practices laws.

Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act Adopted

No

Code Section

South Carolina Code of Laws 39-5-10, et seq.: South Carolina Unfair Trade Practice Act

False Advertising Forbidden

Yes (§39-5-10) (§39-5-20)

Who May Bring Suit

Attorney general (§39-5-50); any person suffering ascertainable loss (§39-5-140); solicitor, county attorney or city attorney with prior approval by the attorney general (§39-5-130)

Remedies Available

Treble damages, actual damages, costs, and attorney's fees (§39-5-140); civil penalty up to $5,000 (§39-5-110)

Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden

No specific statute

Protecting Yourself Against Deceptive Trade Practices

These deceptive trade practices laws are great, but they can only provide a remedy after the act has occurred. To protect yourself from scams before they happen, or to report a person or local business you think has engaged in deceptive business practices, you can contact a consumer protection office in your area. These offices can provide information about existing consumer scams as well as investigate new scams using trade and commerce statutes.

Additionally, there are federal agencies, like www.consumeraction.gov, the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org, and www.fraud.org that can assist you in filing consumer fraud complaints. These resources can provide online fraud complaint forms, and can forward complaints to the proper local, state, and federal agencies.

South Carolina Deceptive Trade Practices Laws: Related Resources

Consumer scams can be as difficult to decipher with as the laws that cover them. For more articles and resources on this topic, you can also visit FindLaw's Consumer Protection section. If you would like legal assistance with a deceptive trade practices or possible consumer fraud matter, you can contact a South Carolina consumer protection attorney.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.