The office of the Credit Ombud chose the theme “Celebrating 25 years of Democracy” for this report, we wish to showcase the efforts of the Office of the Credit Ombud in enforcing consumer rights in a fair and balanced manner and following through with what we are selling: ‘GIVING HOPE TO CONSUMERS. Many people find themselves in economic hardship due to the tough economic climate and are desperate for assistance.
“The achievement that we are most proud of, is the more than R8 million saved for consumers, an amount that we put back into consumers’ pockets in these difficult financial times”, said the Credit Ombud, Mr. Nicky Lala Mohan. This figure is calculated by adding all the amounts where consumers overpaid or where we found some breach of the law which entitled consumers to a refund or recalculation of their amounts owed.” he explained. Some consumers find themselves saving up to R199 000.00.
Another achievement was the number of consumers who were assisted telephonically. There was an increase in the calls fielded by the call center, 45 198 calls, an increase of 28.54%. The total complaints and enquiries recorded amounted to 26 065 for the period, also an increase of 44.23%.
Disputes opened for investigation amounted to 5 112 for the year, an increase of 13.4%, and closed 5 447 disputes, an increase of 16.84%. “We are particularly proud of all these achievements – enforcing consumer rights in a fair and balanced manner,” said Lala Mohan.
The most common complaints dealt with by the office of the Credit Ombud range from disputes regarding credit information dispute – prescription of debt, contractual dispute – service fees, affordability, unfair credit bureau listings, fraud cases, and alleged reckless lending cases. Many cases resulted in balances being written off, refunds being facilitated or assisting consumers to enter into payment arrangements. The office resolved 64.76% of the disputes in consumers’ favour, signaling that the consumers’ complaints were fully or partially upheld.
“Part of our mission statement states that the Credit Ombud will act as an educator of the public in matters pertaining to the credit industry. This is a part of the work of the office where we are particularly proud of our achievements”, said Lala Mohan. Our consumer education outreach allows us to touch more people and inform them of their rights and responsibilities. 128 consumer workshops were held, and 50 double impact sessions were held. The double impact session is an educational workshop offered to our members and their staff. In these sessions we educate attendees on credit in general, how to read a credit report and many other credit related matters. We believe that a better educated credit grantor is mutually beneficial to the credit receiver.
The office is grateful for the support of the media and can report coverage in broadcast, print and online media to the AEV (Advertising Equivalent Value) in excess of R42 million. We are grateful in particular to Umhlobo Wenene FM for the weekly morning slot. The office is also pleased to report that results from an independent customer satisfaction survey as well as a credit provider/credit bureau satisfaction survey indicated that consumers rate their level of satisfaction at 87% and we also scored 88% for referrals, i.e. consumers who said they would refer someone else to our office.
Attached hereto are some of our recent Case Studies for the 2018 year as it appears in our annual report;
A. Contractual dispute – service fees
The complainant disputed liability for service fees as this did not fall within the cost of credit in the initial loan agreement. Upon further investigation it was found that these fees did indeed not fall within the original loan agreement and as a result the service fee charges were reversed. The account was adjusted accordingly.
B. Credit Information Dispute – prescription of debt
The complainant logged a dispute claiming prescription on a loan account reflecting under his credit profile. After a lengthy investigation the account was closed due to prescription, with the amount of R199 000.00 being written off.
C. Interest – section 103  of the National Credit Act 31 of 2005
The complainant approached our office to investigate the interest charges levied on his account which was subject to an Emolument Attachment Order. Upon investigation it was found that the interest charged was in breach of S103 of the National Credit Act 31 of 2005. The account was adjusted accordingly, resulting in a reversal of R 8 774.49.
D. Credit information dispute – judgment removed against trustee
The complainant disputed an adverse listing which was granted against a trust, but which was also listed against him in his personal capacity on his personal credit profile. The investigation revealed that the adverse listing for the trust was incorrectly listed against the trustee in his personal capacity and the listing was subsequently removed.
E. Balance written off
An account was handed over for collection. The complainant disputed the outstanding balance with the credit provider. Upon further investigation it was found that there were inconsistencies between the amount that was handed over and the amount claimed by the collection agency. The credit provider decided to write off the outstanding balance, which was in excess of R180 000.00.
F. Credit information – fraud
The complainant claimed fraud on an account reflecting under his credit profile, which displayed an outstanding balance of R24 800.00. When raised with he relevant provider, it was found that the account did not belong to the consumer and he account was removed from his credit profile.
The complaint related to an emolument attachment order and subsequent deductions that were made on the complainant’s salary. Upon investigating the matter, the issue of affordability was raised, and it was found that certain expenses were not considered when assessing the affordability of the complainant. As a result of this, the interest and costs were reversed on the account, while only the capital was to be repaid.
“We are thankful for the support of our stakeholders and in particular our member organisations who continue to fund the office. We are glad that they see the value proposition that we add in their business cycle. In these tough economic times, the vulnerable consumers need our assistance more than ever. We are privileged that so many consumers trust us with their financial problems and thankful that we are able to resolve so many matters satisfactorily. We will continue to serve our constituencies and to perform our function in an impartial, fair and effective manner, always aiming for the best outcome for both parties to the dispute,” concluded Lala Mohan.
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Salem Nyati , Head: Public Relations and Education at 0792243802 or email at email@example.com.