In the past quarter our department dealt with 547 opened disputes and closed 526 disputes. Disputes opened increased by 27.8% as compared to the previous quarter, while disputes closed decreased by 10.85% when compared to the previous quarter.
The implementation of the Removal of Adverse Consumer Credit Information Project on 1 April 2014 saw our office inundated with calls from consumers requesting copies of their credit reports and wanting to know if they qualify for the so-called ‘credit amnesty’. It was all hands on deck in our department with everyone assisting our call centre to answer consumer queries and to redirect them to the credit bureaus to obtain their credit reports.
During this time, we experienced high volumes of consumer queries, which spiked again as we drew closer to 1 June 2014 – the due date for the credit bureaus to remove qualifying information from consumers’ profiles. Consumers mostly wanted to know how they were impacted by the project or how they could benefit.
The most common queries and disputes our department dealt with in the past quarter were the following:
- Consumers had the misguided expectation that all the information in the payment profile line had to be removed from their credit reports.
- Consumers were disputing their listed judgments alleging that they settled the judgment debt in full and as a result they requested the early removal of the listing. Although paid-up judgments had to be removed, there is a process which has to be followed and a verification that has to take place before the judgment information can be removed by the credit bureaus.
Although the initial 2 month period of the Removal of Adverse Credit Information Project has passed, consumers will still benefit on an ongoing basis where paid up judgments are concerned. Credit providers will now have the duty of informing a bureau of any paid up judgment within 7 days of the judgment debt being settled. The bureaus in turn have the duty of removing the listing within 3 days of being informed by a credit provided that the debt has been paid in full and furthermore, the bureau will also have to inform other bureaus of the removal of that listing.
The National Credit Amendment Act, which has recently been signed into law by the President, is on the horizon and will also have a huge impact on consumer credit information. An important issue addressed by the act relates to paid up defaults. All paid up defaults will in future also qualify for early removal once settled and the retention period will only apply if the default is not settled.