Over the past quarter, the Office of the Credit Ombud has further established itself as an independent dispute resolution body in the credit industry.
Our office has dealt with a total of 4 502 disputes during the year to date, demonstrating the growing importance of the office amongst consumers. Disputes in the Non-bank Credit department have doubled to 1 811 as compared to 2011, while Credit Information disputes remained stable for this year. Debt Counselling disputes have not been taken up as much as we would have liked, but we will continue to focus on education initiatives around this to increase awareness around our services in this area.
One of the highlights of the last quarter was the inaugural Joint Credit and Over-Indebtedness Summit hosted on 24 October 2012 in Midrand. The summit saw our office partnering with the National Debt Mediation Association (NDMA) to deliver a successful, debate-stimulating event with a variety of independent, expert speakers presenting. The summit is just one initiative that the office of the Credit Ombud has committed itself to as part of creating value for our stakeholders.
Our strategy of educating consumers in their places of employment is slowly starting to bear fruit and it may have contributed to the increase in the number of complaints that our office has been receiving lately. We are excited about this project and aim to approach a number of big employers with the proposal that we conduct workshops at their offices for the benefit of their staff on consumer rights and the role of this office.
We also focused on improving corporate governance for the office of the Credit Ombud in 2012. A Corporate Governance and Compliance Sub-committee was established to oversee the governance and compliance policies and procedures of the office and to ensure that all practices are within the legal requirements and in line with best practice in order to further ensure that we uphold our philosophy of operating in a lawful, fair and independent manner in all spheres of our organisation. This committee will remain a permanent structure into the future.
In the same vein, a Media Policy Sub-committee was established to give guidance on engagement with the media and to draft a Media Policy for the office. This policy is aimed at ensuring and protecting the independence and reputation of this office, when it comes to its interactions with the media on consumer, as well as industry-related commentary.
Our work into 2013 will continue to focus on value creation for all our stakeholders and creating opportunities for continuous engagement. One of the big issues that may affect our industry in the future is that of the proposed credit bureau amnesty. This office is engaging with all stakeholders where possible. With this year fast coming to an end, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you an enjoyable festive season and a prosperous New Year.
Should you have any comments or suggestions on future topics you would like us to tackle or simply require more information on the work we do, you can send your queries and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manie van Schalkwyk