The National Credit Regulator (NCR), and the Credit Ombud have joined forces to urge all consumers to know their credit status as part of World Consumer Rights Month, writes Angelique Ruzicka. In South Africa, March is celebrated as Consumer Rights Awareness Month and World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated on the 15 March. The NCR’s theme for the March 2014 campaign is “Know your credit status”. This month, the NCR and Credit Ombud will educate and inform consumers about the importance of knowing their credit status. “Every person who has an account in the country with a credit or service provider, who makes use of credit bureau services, will find the information about their account recorded with a credit bureau irrespective of whether that person pays their account regularly or not. This means that credit bureaus hold both positive (where consumers are paying their accounts well) and negative information (where a consumer has fallen behind or defaulted on payments).
“The purpose of listing the information collectively at the credit bureaus is to create a comprehensive view of the consumer for both prospective and existing credit and service providers to assist them in the evaluation of credit or account applications and also to assist in the management of their relationship with their customers,” explains Lesiba Mashapa, company secretary at the NCR. Few know their credit score status Out of 20.29 million credit active consumers, only 164,437 credit reports were issued to consumers at their request during the quarter ending September 2013. It further states that 77% (126,591) were issued without charge, and the remaining 23% (37,846) were issued with charge. Mashapa points out that under the National Credit Act (NCA), consumers are entitled to one free credit report annually from all 13 registered credit bureaus. “Should a consumer require an additional copy of his or her credit report within the same year, there will be a cost not exceeding R20, excluding Vat.” Challenge the info If the information stored by the bureau is incorrect you have the right to challenge under the NCA.
“When challenging the credit bureau record, the consumer needs to contact the credit bureau that issued the credit report. The credit bureau has 20 business days to investigate the matter, says Mashapa. Credit Ombud Manie van Schalkwyk says if the consumer is not satisfied with the outcome from the credit bureau investigation or they do not have an answer after waiting for 20 business days for the bureau to assist them, they should escalate the matter to the Credit Ombud’s office where they will receive assistance free of charge. However, consumers need to have a reference number from the credit bureau, he adds.
“The Office of the Credit Ombud resolves complaints from consumers and businesses that are negatively impacted by credit information as well as complaints relating to non-bank credit agreements”, says Van Schalkwyk. Examples of credit report related matters that can be escalated to the Credit Ombud’s office include: Complaints about incorrect or outdated listings on their credit profile; Complaints about unfair listings, as well as instances of fraud or ID theft; and Complaints about consumer account information not being updated accurately. But what about the credit information amnesty? The removal of adverse consumer credit information and information relating to paid up judgment regulations shall come into effect on 1 April 2014.
“This means that adverse consumer credit information, details and results of disputes lodged by consumers irrespective of the outcome of such disputes will be automatically removed from the credit bureau records. However, consumers who have judgments against their names need to settle the judgement debt before the judgment listing will be removed from the credit bureau records,” stressed Mashapa. Relevant contact details: National Credit Regulator – 0860 627 627/e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Credit Ombud – 0861 662 837 email@example.com TransUnion – 0861 482 482 Experian S.A – 0861 105 665 Xpert Decisions Systems (XDS) – (011) 645 9100 Compuscan – 0861 514 131 Consumer Profile Bureau – 010 590 9505 CreditWatch (Pty) Ltd – 011 483 0086 Crosscheck Information Bureau (Pty) ltd (previously known as MLCB) – 0105 909 505 Inoxico – 010 001 0540 LexisNexis Risk Management – 011 245 6500 Managed Integrity Evaluation (Pty) Ltd – 012 644 4000 Robertsons International Reports (Pty) Ltd – 011 777 4000 Tenant Profile Network (Pty) Ltd – 086 187 6000 Tenant Watch Business Activities (Pty) Ltd – 011 394 6828
This article originally appeared on: http://www.moneybags.co.za/article/know-your-credit-status-this-consumer-rights-month/