Give YourSelf Some Credit

According to South African credit bureau statistics, 21 million people are credit-active. The shocking part is that more than half of this number is made up of people with bad credit.

Do you know all there is to know about your credit profile? It’s time to give yourself some credit, and get credit savvy.

For most people it is easy to get carried away and become over-indebted or worse lose track of what they owe on their accounts. Did you know that this may count against you when creditors are reviewing your credit profile? Your credit profile is the history of your spending and payment habits – it is your financial reputation on paper. This is what will either open or close doors for you when applying for credit from reputable credit providers.

If you do not know which category you fall within, it would be worth your while to contact the relevant credit bureau and request a copy of your credit report. The National Credit Act states that each person is entitled to one free credit report per year and thereafter you pay an amount starting from R14,99 (XDS – Credit4Life) for an additional report within the same year, should you require it.

The full large members of the Credit Bureau Association are; CompuScan, Xpert Decision Systems, TransUnion and Experian. Approach one of them or any other accredited bureau to gain a better understanding of your credit standing. This will permit you to make the necessary changes, such as close the accounts that you no longer use even though you may have a zero balance. Having a higher credit means that you are a higher risk for a future credit provider.

It is important to be aware of your consumer rights;

The Right to be Informed

You are entitled to a pre-agreement statement and a quotation for each selected credit. You need to know what the terms of the credit provision are.

The Right to Choose

Getting a quotation does not mean you have committed. Before you sign on the dotted line you are free to compare and choose a provider with the terms most suitable for you.

The Right to be Heard

If you have a complaint or are battling to make the payments, speak to your credit provider and restructure your repayments. Ensure that you do this within three months, before the credit provider takes legal action.

The Right to Take Action

As a consumer you have the right to redress and correct matters should you have been wronged by your provider. A good number to take note of is the National Credit Regulator – 0860 627 627. Do not hesitate to speak to them if you require advice or the resolution of any disputes.

The Right to be Educated

Finally, you have the right to be educated. Be in the know with regards to consumer rights and obligations when dealing with credit providers.

It is in your best interest to find out all there is to know about your credit profile and to know all your rights and options as a consumer!

A common question people seek the answer to:

  • What if I am headed towards a bad credit rating and debt collectors never neglect to remind me? It may be frustrating at times to accept their calls and being unable to act on the overdue accounts in question.

Do not despair; you have rights. The following is a list of things that debt collectors cannot do and you are within your right to report them to the South African Council for Debt Collectors if they do not oblige;

  • Call you before 8am or after 9pm unless you agree to them doing so.
  • Call you on a Sunday.
  • Contact you at work if they know that your employer does not want you to be contacted during working hours or get in touch with your employer about your debts.
  • Contact your friends, neighbours or relatives unless they need your contact details but they cannot discuss these issues with them.
  • Communicate with you about your debt by using a postcard or an envelope that clearly indicates that a debt collector has sent it.
  • Use a letter or envelope to communicate with you that appears to have come from a government agency or a court.
  • Call you repeatedly within a relatively short period of time, for instance in a single morning or afternoon.
  • Swear at you or insult you during a conversation, or threaten you with loss of reputation or with jail time.
  • Order you to accept calls from them.

Most people are faced with the problem of accumulated debt, and find themselves continuously trying to juggle numerous collectors. Should you be experiencing a similar situation then it may be time to consider debt consolidation. This means that you will be able to take out one loan to pay off several existing loans; as with any loan, you’ll have to pay an extra charge which is determined by the interest rate – finding a loan with a reduced interest rate and reduced payments will immediately improve your financial situation. Dealing with only one monthly bill and having a manageable payment system can assist you to rebuild your credit status.

Be careful of scams or institutions that do not fully disclose the fees involved in providing these services. This may only sink you deeper into debt, and being misled in this way could make your financial situation worse. Avoid bankruptcy by liaising with Izwe Loans, a trusted financial services provider, to learn how they may assist you in consolidating your loans in the best way. Visit Izwe Loan’s website and use their Debt Consolidation Calculator [link] to see how a single payment can improve your life.

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