Known for its steamy summers and mild winters, South Carolina is a hot spot for many people. The state also doesn’t have a Social Security tax, making it a great place to retire. But for the average resident, the rising cost of living and relatively low wages make the state less affordable than it used to be.
South Carolina ranks 42nd in poverty, with about 13.8% of the population — or 692,744 out of roughly 5,003,235 people — living in poverty. The average annual mean wage is $47,490, which is relatively low compared to the debt per capita of $49,630.
If you’re living in South Carolina and need debt relief or other financial assistance, here’s what you need to know.
Are you eligible for debt relief?
If you’re a South Carolina resident, DebtHammer may be able to help.
South Carolina debt statistics
Here are the most recent debt-related statistics in South Carolina:
- Average household debt: $49,630
- Average student loan debt: $38,414
- Average credit score: 689
- Median mortgage payment: $1,329
- Bankruptcies: 6,690
- Personal income: $47,490
- Child poverty: 19.4%
- Unemployment: 3.3%
Debt collection laws in South Carolina
Like the rest of the United States, South Carolina adheres to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot do the following:
- Use profane language or make threats to try to collect money
- Deposit or threaten to deposit a post-dated check early
- Claim you owe more than you do or that the debt is current and valid when it is not
- Use documents that mimic state or federal government agencies to try to get you to pay
- Threaten jail time, wage garnishment or other legal action that they do not intend to take
- Use harassment or other deceptive tactics to collect on a debt
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs has a guide to help residents in the face of debt collection. This guide explains the typical debt timeline to help people understand what they can expect when dealing with debt collectors. It also indicates how debt collection might affect credit.
The guide also states what rights consumers in South Carolina have. For example, it details how to stop a third-party debt collector (not the original creditor) from contacting you at home or work about a debt.
Debt relief options for South Carolina residents
South Carolina debt relief options come in many forms. If you’re looking for a solution to help you with large amounts of debt, here are the most common solutions:
- Debt settlement: The process of debt settlement involves negotiating with your original creditors to reduce how much you owe on an existing debt (like a credit card or personal loan). Most people go through a nonprofit debt settlement company to do this.
- Debt consolidation loan: A debt consolidation loan lets you combine multiple high-interest debts into one larger loan with a fixed monthly payment. This can make it easier to keep up with payments and pay down debt over time. If the new loan has a lower interest rate, it could also save you money on interest fees.
- Debt Management Plans (DMPs): Credit counseling companies offer these three- to five-year programs to help you pay off unsecured debts. With one, you could end up with lower interest rates, waived late fees or a more manageable repayment plan.
- DIY debt settlement: With DIY debt relief, you negotiate with your creditors to set up a payment plan, waive fees, lower interest rates, or reduce what you owe on your debts.
- Personal bankruptcy: Filing for bankruptcy is a last resort, but it could give you a fresh start if you’re drowning in debt. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the two most common types of personal bankruptcy. Speak with an attorney to see which one you’re eligible for and whether this is the best debt relief solution for you.
Debt settlement in South Carolina
You may want to consider debt settlement if:
- You’re struggling to make ends meet
- You’ve fallen behind on monthly debt payments
- You’re using expensive forms of credit (like payday loans or cash advance apps)
With a debt settlement plan, you could potentially reduce the amount you owe on different types of unsecured debts like:
- Credit cards
- Personal lines of credit
- Personal loans
- Department store or retail credit cards
- Loans (like student loans) in default
- Old judgments
- Other unsecured debts
The way debt settlement works is simple. Start by finding a legitimate or licensed debt settlement service. To do this, check with your state regulator or attorney general’s office.
Once you’ve found a reputable company, you’ll need to “enroll” any debts you want to be settled. A professional will then work with your creditors to try to negotiate what you owe to a lower amount — sometimes up to 50%.
While they do this, you’ll typically need to start making monthly payments into a secure account. Once you have enough, the debt settlement company will use this money to pay off the settled amount, usually in a lump sum.
You may have to stop using your credit cards (except one for emergencies) during a debt settlement. You may also be asked to stop making monthly payments on any debts you’re trying to settle. This will increase your odds of success but can also lead to late fees and added interest charges. It might also hurt your credit score.
Before going this route, weigh the pros and cons of debt settlement. When in doubt, consult a lawyer about your options.
South Carolina debt settlement companies
If you’re looking for a South Carolina debt relief or debt settlement agency, one of these companies might be able to help:
- Kingdom Builders Credit Repair: This company offers several debt relief services for things like credit repair, budgeting, bankruptcy disputes, and dispute resolution. It’s located at The Meridian Building, 1320 Main St #300, Columbia, SC 29201.
- Origin SC: This company offers a debt management program to help people dealing with unsecured debts — primarily credit card debts. It may be able to help lower interest rates and monthly payments. It’s headquartered at 8084 Rivers Ave, North Charleston, SC 29406.
- New Era Debt Solutions: This is another highly-rated debt relief company that operates in South Carolina. It’s headquartered at 330 Wood Rd, Suite B, Camarillo, CA 93010.
- InCharge Debt Solutions: Offered nationwide, this company provides debt relief services in South Carolina, including debt settlement. The primary address is 5750 Major Blvd Suite 300, Orlando, FL 32819-7971.
Debt settlement attorneys
Trying to go it alone can be challenging or stressful, but one of these debt settlement attorneys could make the process easier:
- DeMott Law Firm P.A.: 300 N Cedar St Suite A Summerville, SC 29483; (843) 695-0830
- Hart Consumer Law LLC.: 107 Sunbelt Ct Suite 3, Greer, SC 29650; (864) 574-0870
- Meredith Law Firm LLC.: 4000 Faber Pl Dr #120, North Charleston, SC 29405; (843) 529-9000
- Gaffney Law Firm, P.A.: 989 Knox Abbott Dr #202, Cayce, SC 29033; (803) 781-0500
- Campbell Law Firm, Bankruptcy Law: 890 Johnnie Dodds Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464; (843) 884-6874
READ MORE: Do I need a debt settlement attorney?
Debt resources for South Carolina residents facing hardship
South Carolina offers many debt relief programs and resources for residents facing financial hardship. These resources include help with things like mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, childcare, healthcare and legal assistance.
An estimated 489,510 people in South Carolina are facing hunger — approximately one in 10 people. The state has several charitable programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to help combat hunger. However, these programs are not always enough.
That’s where food banks and food pantries come into play. These resources offer food and nutrition to residents struggling with food insecurity or the cost of groceries.
Here are some of the main food banks operating in the state:
- Lowcountry Food Bank: 2864 Azalea Drive Charleston, SC 29405; (843) 747-8146
- Harvest Hope Food Bank: 2220 Shop Road P.O. Box 451 Columbia, SC 29201; (803) 254-4432
- Harvest Hope Food Bank Peedee: 2513 W Lucas Street Florence, SC 29501; (843) 661-0826
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina: 500 B Spratt St. Charlotte, NC 28206; (704) 376-1785
- East Cooper Community Outreach Food Pantry: 1145 Six Mile Road Mount Pleasant, SC 29466; (843) 849-9220
- Lowcountry Food Bank, Inc.: 2864 Azalea Dr North Charleston, SC 29405; (843) 747-8146
- Samaritan House Food Bank: 2723 Augusta Street Greenville, SC 29605; (864) 299-5898
- Summerville Food Bank – A First Fruits Community Church Ministry: 195 Farmington Road Summerville, SC 29483; (843) 900-1486
Income and employment in South Carolina
South Carolina has a current unemployment rate of 3.3%. This is two percentage points lower than the national unemployment rate. It’s also a significant drop from 11.6% in April 2020. The state ranks 19th in job growth with 91,000 new, nonfarm-related jobs in 2022.
The Palmetto State is considered a right-to-work state. This means that an employer cannot require an employee to be part of a labor union as a condition of employment. An employer also cannot refuse to employ a person who does belong to a union.
South Carolina is also an employment-at-will state. An employer can legally fire any employee with or without reason or notice. It also means an employee can leave a job without giving cause (unless the contract says otherwise).
Employment at-will and right-to-work states could lead to reduced job security or lower wages. However, this depends on several factors, such as the active job contract.
How to apply for unemployment benefits in South Carolina
You could be eligible for unemployment benefits if you’re unemployed through no fault of your own and are a South Carolina resident. Head to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce website to get started and file a claim to determine eligibility.
You will need the following information:
- Social Security number
- Job history for the past 18 months (ex. previous employers’ business names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.)
- Past 18 months’ worth of salary information
- Alien registration number (for non-U.S. citizens)
- DD-214 Form (for military personnel)
- SF-50 or SF-8 Form (for federal civilian employees)
Once you have this information, set up a MyBenefits Portal account online. Next, file a new claim to see whether you qualify and what the amount of your benefits will be.
If eligible, you’ll need to file weekly claims through your account. You’ll also need to apply to at least two jobs each week to remain eligible. When you find a new job, simply stop filing weekly claims and the benefits will cease. You could receive benefits for up to 12 months.
Before applying for benefits, check if your previous employer filed for you. If they did, you’d only need to apply for weekly benefits.
Banking and taxes in South Carolina
South Carolina has an individual income tax rate ranging from 0% to 7%. This is slightly higher than the previous year’s tax rate, which was capped at 6.5%. Only residents making over $100,000 are subject to the highest income tax rate.
In South Carolina, an estimated 5.2% of households are unbanked. This means they do not have a checking or savings account with a traditional banking institution. Unbanked people may be at higher risk of taking out high-interest loans like payday loans or using other expensive forms of credit.
South Carolina housing market
According to census data, the owner-occupied housing rate in South Carolina is 70.3%. The median home value was $181,800 in 2021 with an average monthly payment of $1,329. In comparison, the typical rent is $970.
In the United States, the average home value is $357,319. This is a 10.8% increase over one year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina established the S.C. Homeowner Rescue Program to help homeowners dealing with pandemic-related financial hardships. This federally funded program is open to eligible residents until September 30, 2026, or until funds run out.
Eligibility for this assistance program is based on a few factors, including household income, state residency and home type. The program can help with late mortgage payments, utility bills, HOA fees, and property taxes. It can also help through nonprofit or government-funded down-payment assistance loans.
Retirement in South Carolina
The average South Carolinian has $449,486 saved up for retirement. But the average resident needs $627,861 to retire comfortably.
Average South Carolina insurance premiums
The average cost of a car insurance premium (full coverage) in South Carolina is $1,512 a year. Minimum liability coverage is closer to $558.
Homeowner insurance premiums cost, on average, $1,165 a year. This is slightly lower than the national average.
Payday lending status in South Carolina: Legal
Payday lending is legal in South Carolina. Here’s what the typical payday loan looks like:
- Maximum loan amount: $550
- Maximum Interest Rate (APR): 391% on a 14-day loan
- Minimum loan term: N/A
- Maximum loan term: 31 days
Statute of limitations on debt in South Carolina
The statute of limitations on debt in South Carolina ranges from three to 20 years, depending on the type of debt.
- Medical debt: 3 years
- Credit card: 3 years
- Auto loan debt: 6 years
- State tax debt: 10 years (no limit, in some cases)
- Mortgage debt: 20 years
State hardship programs
Along with South Carolina debt relief resources, the state has various state-specific hardship programs. These include:
- S.C. Housing Assistance: The S.C. Homeowner Rescue Program helps residents who need help paying their mortgage, utilities, or property taxes. Although not currently open, the S.C. Stay Plus Program helps renters with their payments.
- Single Family Housing Repair and Grants Program: Sometimes called the Section 504 Home Repair program, this program offers loans to help low-income homeowners repair or modernize their homes. It also provides grants to very low-income elderly homeowners facing safety or health hazards.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program: LIHEAP is a federal program that helps low-income residents pay for their home energy bills.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program: The South Carolina Partners for Healthy Children offers affordable healthcare to eligible children, pregnant women, and families not qualifying for Medicaid.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: SNAP offers nutrition and food-related education and resources to low-income families who would otherwise face food insecurity or hunger.
- Combined Application Projects: CAPs exists to help low-income residents and those with special needs get better access to certain benefits, including food benefits.
- Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program: WIC offers cash benefits to eligible pregnant women and women with children who need food and nutrition assistance.
- SCDSS Refugee Resettlement Program: This program helps refugees seeking asylum in South Carolina through Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA), and Refugee Social Services (RSS).
Help for Veterans
An estimated 400,000 veterans currently live in South Carolina. Veterans make up around 10% of the state’s adult population.
The South Carolina Department of Veteran Affairs offers different benefits to veterans, such as family advocacy, benefits assistance, and employment opportunities. These resources are designed to help combat unemployment, homelessness, and other hardships.
Facilities in South Carolina
Need a VA facility in South Carolina? Here are some of the main ones:
- Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center: 109 Bee Street Charleston, S.C. 29401-5799; (843) 577-5011
- Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center: 6439 Garners Ferry Road Columbia, S.C. 29209-1638; (803) 776-4000
- Greenville, S.C. Vet Center: 3 Caledon Court Suite B Greenville, S.C. 29615; (864) 271-2711
- Myrtle Beach Vet Center: 1101 Johnson Ave Suite 201 Myrtle Beach, S.C. 29577; (843) 232-2441
- Charleston, S.C. Vet Center: 3625 West Montague Avenue North Charleston, S.C. 29418; (843) 789-7000
Employment resources for Veterans
South Carolina offers state-specific resources to help veterans seeking employment with VA benefits. Along with this, the following organizations help veterans in the state find civilian work:
- CareerOneStop offers job-related resources, advice, and an online job search portal.
- MilitaryHire.com works with veterans and their spouses to find civilian employment.
- VeteranRecruiting.com has virtual career fairs for veterans and their families.
- Helmets to Hardhats helps connect veterans to companies in the construction industry.
- Hiring Our Heroes works with veterans and other military personnel to help them find jobs.
- My Next Move helps veterans find jobs that let them use their military-earned skills.
- Warriors to Work connects employers and veterans, as well as provides other job-related resources like interview preparation and application assistance.
The bottom line
Overall, South Carolina debt relief exists for residents who need it. Some of the best options include debt consolidation, credit counseling, and payment assistance. If you’re experiencing a financial hardship beyond your control, consider your options and find the best one for your financial situation.
Most individual consumer debts in South Carolina can be collected for three to 10 years. Some, such as mortgage or tax-related debts, can be collected beyond that.
Typically, the statute of limitations on debts begins on the date of your last payment or account activity.
South Carolina is an equitable division state, meaning both spouses could be responsible for any debts incurred during the marriage. This is true even if the account does not have both spouses’ names on it. Usually, debts from before or after the marriage are the sole responsibility of the individual who initially incurred them.