In this quarter, we have come across a number of disputes where consumers were under the impression that their accounts should be paid up, whilst their statements or accounts still show outstanding balances.
Consumers then often rely on the Debt Review Court Order, which seems to be proof that an account should be paid up after a stipulated number of instalments. Alternatively, consumers may also rely on the proposal concluded between the debt counsellor and the credit provider. There are, however, other determining factors that are not necessarily taken into account in the court order or the proposal, leading to the stipulated payments not covering the consumers’ entire debt.
Although debt counsellors use the outstanding amount as per the Certificate of Balance (COB) as provided by a credit provider, the outstanding balance inevitably increases, due to the time period it takes for the matter to be heard in the magistrate’s court. The outstanding balance as at the date of the COB will invariably differ from the outstanding balance as at the date of the court order. Another discrepancy is that credit providers do not restructure the accounts according to the date of court order or the date the proposal is accepted; they only restructure the accounts upon actual receipt of a copy of the court order.
We have also seen matters where another contributing factor was the timing of the payments, which resulted in additional interest being levied on the consumer’s account.
These types of complaints are often logged at the end of the debt review process and at the time the consumer feels he/she is entitled to a clearance certificate as the debt “should” be paid up.
With these complaints we are often required to look at the entire process, from the inception of debt review, in order to pinpoint the exact moment the balances of the debt counsellor and the credit provider started to differ. Once this has been established, we can approach all the affected parties in order to agree on a way forward. Almost all the disputes arising from this confusion have been resolved amicably.