It’s March. The month where we are made aware or rather reminded of our rights. It is intriguing to find that not every South African is aware of even the basic human rights in South Africa. Which makes one wonder whether we have much knowledge of consumer rights as per the National Credit Act (NCA).
The Credit Ombud has taken a stand to say that we will do our bit by educating and creating awareness around consumer rights and having to make you, the consumer, understand what your responsibility is in terms of the NCA. Consumer rights are after all human rights.
The Credit Ombud supports the ethos of the National Credit Act, which sets out a consumer’s:
- Right to apply for credit
- Protection against discrimination in respect of credit
- Right to reasons for credit being refused
- Right to information in official language
- Right to receive documents
- Protection of consumer credit rights
Purpose of the National Credit Act, 2005 is to promote and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans; to promote a fair, transparent, competitive, sustainable, responsible, efficient, effective and accessible credit market industry; and to protect consumers.
- to promote and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans – day to day life has certain requirements which are met through the income we receive, and at times we may not have the cash to purchase assets such as houses and vehicles and would be required to apply for credit. The Act provides this initiative to the consumer that enables him or her to apply for credit and to advance his/her life.
- to promote a fair, transparent, competitive, sustainable, responsible, efficient, effective and accessible credit market industry – when applying for credit it is advisable that various credit providers are approached with the aim of obtaining a competitive interest rate and the best price possible. A consumer is well within his/her rights to compare these prices in reaching an informed decision.
- and to protect consumers – in acquiring credit, you need to be protected as the consumer so that you aren’t taken advantage of. There are rules and regulations set in place to ensure that consumers know who to approach should they feel that their rights have been infringed in any way.
With rights, comes responsibilities. The Credit Ombud wants you, the consumer, to understand that your financial well-being is your responsibility. If you aren’t equipped from the time you enter into a credit agreement, chances are that your rights might be infringed upon without you even knowing it. Understand what your responsibilities are when:
- claiming prescription on an account;
- disputing an incorrect listing or outdated credit information on your credit profile at the credit bureaus;
- disputing an emolument attachment order (EAO) that is granted by a court in favor of your credit provider, or the process followed prior to the order being granted and later served on your employer to attach your salary;
- you suspect that you’re being overcharged in interest charges by your credit provider;
- you suspect that credit was granted recklessly without a proper affordability assessment being done at the time you were applying for credit.
At the Credit Ombud, these are some of the issues we know that consumers face and need assistance with, and in some cases these rights are misunderstood. We are here to provide clarity and guidance in these instances that will better inform a consumer. One can never be too prepared, as this places the consumer in a position to make an informed decision with full knowledge of their obligations in terms of the credit agreement.
Knowledge is power!