Welcome to the website of the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. This statement describes the department’s privacy and security practices regarding information collected from visitors to our website, including what information is collected and how that information is used. The policy applies to all pages beginning with www.consumer.sc.gov.
In general, the department’s policies governing the collection and dissemination of personally identifiable information follow the same rules that would apply to an in-person visit to the department’s offices and are governed by the same state and federal laws that regulate these visits.
In the course of operating a website, certain information may be collected automatically in logs or by cookies. A cookie file contains unique information a website can use to track things such as passwords, lists of pages you have visited and the date you last looked at a specific page or to identify your session at a particular website.
If you browse through the department’s website, read pages or download information, the department gathers and stores certain information about your visit automatically. The information does not identify you personally. The department collects and stores the following information about your visit:
- The Internet domain, for example, aol.com, bellsouth.net and Internet Protocol (IP) address, a number that is automatically assigned to your computer whenever you are surfing the web, from which you access our website;
- The type of browser and operating system used to access our site;
- The date and time you accessed our site;
- The pages you visit and;
- If you linked to the department’s website from another website, the address of that website.
The data collected serves as part of our statistical analysis about the use of our website so we may better design online services and improve access to them. We use this information to help make our site more useful to visitors, to learn about the number of visitors to our site and the types of technology our visitors use.
We do not:
- attempt to gain personally identifiable information about individual users and associate it with IP addresses.
- use or place spyware on your computer.
- track or record information about individuals and their visits.
Unless you choose to make your personally identifiable information available to us, the department does not collect such information from you. Your choice to not provide any personal information will not impair your ability to browse the department’s website and read or download any information provided on our site.
If you choose to provide the department with personal information— as in an e-mail, or by filling out a form with your personal information and submitting it to us through our website —we use that information to respond to your message and to attempt to provide the resolution you have requested.
We may share your complaint:
- with a variety of federal or state government agencies, departments, offices or entities that enforce consumer protection and other laws.
- with certain private entities, including companies that you have complained about, to help address your complaint.
If your complaint concerns identity theft, or the accuracy of your credit report, we may share it with credit bureaus to help address your complaint or identity-theft related concern.
In other circumstances, including Freedom of Information requests from private individuals or companies, during litigation, for routine agency uses subject to the Privacy Act, or under our access and public record rules, we may be required or authorized by law to disclose the information you provide.
We do not create any individual profiles with the information you provide, or give it to any private organizations. The State of South Carolina does not collect information for commercial marketing. This information is not shared, sold or otherwise disseminated by the department.
The Family Privacy Protection Act of 2002, prohibits persons or private entities from using any personal information obtained from the department’s website for commercial solicitation purposes. A person who knowingly violates this prohibition is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to the penalties specified in S.C. Code §30-2-50.
You may choose to provide personal information to the department online.
Personal information is information about a natural person that is readily identifiable to that specific individual. We consider any information that could reasonably be used to identify you as personally identifiable information. This may include, but is not limited to:
- your name;
- your address;
- your e-mail address;
- your social security number;
- your password;
- bank account information;
- credit card information;
- employment history, including disciplinary action(s);
- criminal history;
- financial history;
- license or identification number;
- telephone number;
- medical or disability information;
- any combination of data, such as birth date, zip code and gender, that could be used to identify you;
- any graphical or visual representation of you.
If personal information is requested on the website or volunteered by the user, state law and federal Privacy Act of 1974, may protect it. However, this information is a public record once you provide it, and may be subject to public inspection, distribution and copying if not protected by federal or state law. The department has taken steps to limit access to personally identifiable information to staff who require access in order to perform their assigned duties. Only department employees with a need to know will have access to your personal information. The department has notified and instructed its staff, in writing, on their responsibilities concerning the protection of personally identifiable information.
The department’s commitment to the security of your data and the data integrity of your personally identifiable information includes taking precautions to protect personally identifiable information from loss, misuse or alteration. All contractors and/or authorized third parties acting on our behalf with access to this information are committed to the same principles and are required by contract to follow the same policies and guidelines that the department employs in protecting this information. Visitors should be aware, however, that even though protections are in place the department cannot guarantee against the occurrence of hardware failure, unauthorized intrusion or other technical problems.
E-mail is not a secure medium. Personal information sent via the Internet can be intercepted. If you believe that your personal information is being used for a purpose other than what was intended when you submitted, please report it to the Webmaster.
State agencies may not sell or release the e-mail addresses of members of the public that have been provided to communicate electronically with a government body without the affirmative consent of the affected member of the public. E-mail addresses will not be sold or given to any organization outside of the department for any commercial purposes. The information collected is subject to the access and confidentiality provisions of the state’s Freedom of Information Act, other applicable sections of the South Carolina Code of Laws and/or federal law. With few exceptions, e-mail addresses obtained as a result of requests to the department’s website may be releasable under current laws. E-mail or other information requests sent to the department’s website may be maintained in order to respond to the request, forward the request to the appropriate agency or provide the department’s web master with customer feedback to assist in improving the site. Personally identifying information will be released only if required by law.
Various websites can be linked through the department’s website. This includes websites of other governmental agencies as well as websites of private entities. Many of these sites may not be subject to the South Carolina Code of Laws, or may operate under different privacy standards. Visitors to those websites are advised to check the privacy statements of those sites and be cautious about providing personally identifiable information without a clear understanding of how the information will be used.
Under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974, you have certain rights to get information about you and your company that may be in our records. If your personal information changes, or you would like to review the personal information we have on file, you may make a written request using the contact information at the beginning of this policy.
For more information about privacy issues, please visit the website of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).