Today I was cited with a $500 fine for failure to display my South Carolina State Retail License. As per the citation, I have been preparing a protest against this and was hoping some of you legal eagles might take some time to read this and give me any suggestions or advice.
I have censored any identifying names/numbers for obvious reasons. Thank you.
As per form FS-31 issued to me on Friday September 7th, this letter is my official protest to the regulatory violation and proposed assessment report issued by “xxxxxxxxxx”.
This protest is in regards to South Carolina State Retail License Number ###-#####-# effective ##-##-####.
Upon review of the statement of facts and reasons for appeal, I believe your agency will realize "xxxxxxxxxx” was being overzealous in his approach and that I was only lawfully protecting my social security number from potential “identity thieves”.
I was not in violation of any law, and if this letter does not remove my obligation to pay any fines, then I hereby request a conference with the appropriate District Manager.
Operating my business legally is important to me, which is why I set forth the time, effort, and trouble to obtain the license in the first place.
STATEMENT OF FACTS:
On Friday September 7th, an unidentified man approached my flea market stall and requested to see my State retail license. I informed him it was in my truck, and offered to retrieve it. He proceeded to ask for my name and social security number, writing the information down on a piece of scratch paper.
Upon witnessing him write down the first three digits of my social security number, I asked him to identify himself. He flashed what appeared to be a plastic badge with the letters “DOR” on it. I explained that was not good enough - I wanted to know exactly who he was. This irritated the man, and he warned me that if I didn’t give him my social security number he was going to fine me $500 for not displaying my State retail license.
I offered this unidentified man the business name my retail license was listed under (JoeJoe’s Secret Shop), however he insisted that he needed my social security number to look it up.
I still did not know this man’s name, and had no identification on him other than a piece of plastic he flashed at me for two seconds that he could have printed himself on a home computer. Due to the alarming rates of “identity theft” (see attachment one) I refused to provide him with my social security number. He walked away - at which point, I debated whether I should contact the police so they could determine if this man was indeed a legitimate employee of the State, or just some criminal trying to “phish” social security numbers for the purpose of identity theft.
I proceeded to my truck and retrieved my State retail license; I had taken it with me so that I could set up some accounts with wholesalers as they require the license so that I do not need to pay sales tax on the goods I purchase for resale (see attachment two). Shortly after I returned, the unidentified man returned with a piece of paper stating I was being fined $500 for failure to display my State retail license.
When the unidentified man returned, he had a second man with him. I asked this man for his identification as a witness to the fact that my State retail license was on display. However, he refused to identify himself only saying “I work for him” pointing at the first unidentified man.
REASONS FOR APPEAL:
It should be noted that I was not actually open for business on Friday September 7th; I was only at the market to build a new display for the new merchandise I had just purchased. I generally only work the flea market on Saturdays and Sundays, and during the summer I only work the flea market on Saturdays.
It should be noted that I leave no merchandise on display during the week at the flea market. The only merchandise on display on Friday September 7th was merchandise that was uncovered for the necessity of the construction of the new display. “xxxxxxxxxx" (as identified on the report he left with me) left his violation report directly on top of my State retail license on an otherwise empty table while my toolbox and circular saw sat at his feet.
It should be noted that I regularly take the valuable merchandise home with me, as to prevent it’s theft at an unsecured location such as a flea market stall. It should be noted that I consider my State retail license something of value, since would be thieves could use it to defraud wholesalers by establishing terms of credit in my name with no intention of repaying them, which of course would fall back on me.
It should be noted that at least one credit bureau reports that I am a 58 year old man, when indeed I am only 37. It should be noted that my address is often incorrect on my credit reports. It should be noted that in spite of owning my own house (paid for in full), I am still unable to so much as open a checking account due to incorrect data within my credit report. It should be noted that with all the problems I have trying to clear my credit reports on debts I do not owe, I have no desire to have my social security number stolen.
It should also be noted that “xxxxxxxxxx” was in violation of Federal Law while he was in the process of writing down my social security number on a scratch pad. I had no way to determine what he was going to do with the information, if it was going to be stored properly in accordance with Federal Law, nor did I know if he was going to just discard it, or have it properly shredded. The fact that it was being written down on a plain scratch pad certainly raised red flags in my judgment and I stand by the judgment I made on Friday September 7th.
“The Privacy Act of 1974” states that your agency “maintain in its records only such information about an individual as is relevant and necessary to accomplish a purpose of the agency”. It should be noted that “xxxxxxxxxx” was able to obtain verification of my State retail license number and even obtained my social security number without me actually giving it to him. Clearly, it was not necessary for “xxxxxxxxxx” to casually jot down my social security number on an insecure scratch pad.
Section 7 of The Privacy Act also prohibits your agency from denying me “any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his social security account number”. I have other vendors as witnesses that did not have their license on display either, and they were not fined. It is obvious that “xxxxxxxxxx” is targeting me because I choose to lawfully protect my social security number. It should also be noted that at least one vendor who did not have his license on display was not asked for his social security number at all.
I maintain that I am not legally required to leave my license on display in an unsecured environment when I am not open for business. Thefts have occurred in the past, as there is no security force present and a multitude of vendors come and go throughout the week with no supervision other than their own. The law does not require me to display my license more prominently than I display the merchandise I sell - some of which was locked in my truck with the State retail license.
I further maintain that “xxxxxxxxxx” is illegally denying me a privilege he extended to other vendors who also did not have their license on display, and were not fined.
On a more personal note, I find it rather disturbing that several vendors did not have any State retail license at all, and instead of being fined for operating without a license they were provided an application for a license. I must seriously contemplate why I went forth with the time, effort, and trouble to obtain a license in the first place … if I had been operating without a license, I would not be writing this letter.