Get answers to your questions

How do I get a copy of my Credit Bureau report?

You need to phone the relevant credit bureau and ask for a copy of your bureau report. As per the National Credit Act, you are entitled to one free credit report per year. If you want another report within the same year, you need to pay an administration fee of approximately R20.00 per credit report.

If I do not agree with the information on my credit report, what do I need to do?

If there is any information you are disputing on your credit profile or want to be updated / removed, you need to phone the relevant credit bureaux, complete your application form and send the bureau the required signed forms and your evidence as soon as possible. The bureau will supply you with a reference number. Allow them 20 working days to resolve your complaint. If you are not happy with the outcome of their investigation then call us on 0861 66 28 37 for assistance – we will be glad to assist you where possible, free of charge.

I have been told I have been blacklisted, what does this mean?

Blacklist is a misleading term, which came about when credit bureaux only kept negative information. In the 1980’s, following international trends, credit grantors are now encouraged to also share positive information about their customers, as this facilitates access to credit. The perception that credit bureaux only keep negative data is therefore not true. For example, about 60% of the information held on credit bureaux is positive information. One cannot be blacklisted but can be part of the 40% who have a negative notation. The data is not divided into good and bad it is all on one comprehensive database.

I went to apply for credit and I was told the Credit Bureau declined my application

Credit bureaux do not grant credit, but credit providers do. Credit providers would use the information provided by credit bureaux in conjunction with their own credit granting policies and industry regulations to determine whether you qualify or not for credit.

What is a Default?

A default means you are in default of your obligations i.e. you have failed to make the payment as per your agreement. A default is held on the system at credit bureaux for two years and is then automatically removed.

How long does default data stay on my credit bureau report?

Retention periods explained:

  • adverse classifications of consumer behaviour, which are subjective classifications of consumer behaviour and include classifications such as ‘delinquent’, ‘default’, ‘slow paying’, ‘absconded’ or ‘not contactable’ – 1 year
  • adverse classification of enforcement action, which are classifications related to enforcement action taken by the credit provider, including classifications such as handed over for collection or recovery, legal action, or write-off – 2 years”
  • Paying a default account in full, does not automatically qualify for the removal of the listing; however the credit grantor will be obliged to update the information on the credit bureaux that the consumer has paid the total amount outstanding.

    Should there have been circumstances beyond your control which lead to the default listing, the CO can investigate such. Please note that you must always follow the complaints process.

What is a judgement?

A judgment is a court order requested by your credit provider when you have not paid your debt. A legal process is followed before a judgment is issued. A summons is issued to the individual. The law stipulates that the summons does not necessarily have to be issued to the individual in person but can be issued to the individual’s domicilium (where the individual lives or where the consumer has agreed that notices maybe served in the event of a breach of contract). The summons informs the individual of the court appearance and allows them to come forth to represent themselves. Where an individual fails to appear the judgment is issued in default. The judgment is held on the system of credit bureaux for five years and is then automatically removed.

Judgments qualifying for amnesty >>

When do credit grantors decide that you are in default?

When you have not honoured your agreement with a credit provider, they will then add a default (adverse) listing to your credit bureau report. Each credit grantor has its own debt collection policies. Credit bureaux contracts stipulate that in order for a credit provider to submit a default:

  • The credit provider is a registered subscriber with a credit bureau.
  • The default must be accurate
  • The account may not be in dispute
  • The debtor has been sent prior notice
  • The amount is a result of a credit related transaction

Why do creditors need to check my credit profile?

In order to:

  • Allow credit providers to assess how you have repaid and managed your debt
  • Allow the credit provider to evaluate payment history
  • Allow the credit provider to lessen risk thus lessening the price of goods.
  • Allow the credit provider to determine whether the consumer will be in a position to repay the debt.

The information the Credit Bureau keep infringes on consumers privacy

Credit bureaux do not infringe on privacy. The credit bureaux hold the following information on their system:

  • Public information – judgments are public records which means that anyone can go and look at this information. The data is kept on credit bureau system for 5 years and on the court records for 30 years.
  • Identifying information – This information is given by the applicants on the application forms when they apply for credit. When an applicant completes an application form with a consent clause in the small print or a tick box, they are giving the credit grantor the right to check this information and your profile with the credit bureaux.
  • Credit behaviour information – Information that is forwarded to credit bureaux by the credit provider. This information is a reflection of how you have conducted your account. The credit provider needs to ensure that the information is correct and the applicant is aware that the information is being submitted to the credit bureaux. This is often outlined in the small print of the credit agreement/application.
    Credit bureaux do not keep any information of a sensitive nature, i.e. racial, ethnic, political opinions, religious or similar beliefs, individual membership of trade unions, data on physical or mental health and conditions, sexual orientation, criminal offences committed and any proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed.

What should you do if you have a default listing on your profile?

  • Make payment arrangements.
  • Once you have settled your outstanding debt:
    • Ask the credit provider to send a written instruction to the relevant credit bureau to update the default information.
      – Request a copy of the written instruction for your records.

Why is a default / judgement kept for 2 and 5 years respectively?

The time period the data must reflect on your credit bureau report is determined by the National Credit Act of 2005. The Act.

Once I have paid why does the default / judgement not get removed?

Credit bureaux will not remove judgment unless it has been rescinded in the court of law or if you qualify under the National Credit Act in terms of Amnesty, Sect. 73 which regulates when the judgment data can be removed. As per the National Credit Act, default data remains for a period of two years and the credit provider must add a paid up notice to your default listing.

I did not give anyone consent to have my information, where did the Credit Bureau get consent to keep my information?

When applying for credit, you give consent to the credit provider to share your application and subsequent account handling information with the credit bureaux.

What should I do if I have lost my ID?

You need to report it to the police. Make an affidavit and obtain a case number. To safe guard yourself, you need to fax the affidavit and case number through to the South African Fraud Prevention Service who will note that your ID has been stolen and monitor its use.

What if people have opened accounts with my ID?

The Credit Ombud encourages you the consumers to access your credit profile at least twice a year to see what is reflecting. Should there be information reflecting on your credit profile which you suspect was a result of your lost ID, you need to first go to the credit provider concerned and request them to investigate identity theft. Should they not be able to resolve your complaint, you then need to lodge a complaint at the relevant credit bureau who will investigate. Should the credit bureau not be able to resolve your complaint, then you need to complete the complaint form on the CO website.

Why do I have to pay to access my own information?

Credit bureaux are private organisations who offer this service to the consumer. Since the implementation of the National Credit Act of 2005, you are entitled to receive one free credit report from a credit bureau per year. All you need to do is call the credit bureaux.

What if I lose my job and I am unable to pay my debts?

If you have lost your job it is important that you inform your credit providers of your financial situation in writing. Make an alternative arrangement on the payment. Should you be able to come to an alternative payment agreement, it must be put in writing.

My mother asked me to sign an account on her behalf

If you sign for a contract then it will reflect in your name and not in your mother’s name. Failure to pay the amount as per the agreement could result in a default listing or a judgment being taken against you. Therefore never open up an account for someone else.

What is a garneshee order?

A garnishee order is a court order which gives your credit provider the right to attach part of your salary to pay off your outstanding debt.

How would I be affected should I surrender or return goods bought and delivered / collected?

The Act (NCA) specifies that a consumer can withdraw from an installment sale, secured loan or lease agreement at any time by returning the goods to the credit provider. When the consumer returns the goods to the credit provider, the credit provider is expected to sell them and credit the consumer’s account with the proceeds of the sale. If the proceeds from the sale are more than the consumer’s debt, the credit provider must refund any surplus to the consumer. If the proceeds are less that the consumer’s debt, the consumer is obliged to pay the outstanding amount to the credit provider within 10 days. (Sect 127)

What is an admin order?

This is a court order granted by a Magistrates Court at the request of you the debtor or a credit provider, provided that your debt does not exceed R 50 000. The order examines your financial position and appoints an administrator to whom you make regular payments. These payments are divided proportionately amongst your creditors as listed on your order. An administration order remains on your credit record for a period of 10 years or 5 years from the date of rehabilitation whichever date comes sooner, and can be removed from the credit bureau prior to the 10 year period as soon as the order has been rescinded.

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