This week the National Credit Regulator (NCR) cancelled the registration of two debt counsellors after they obtained orders from the National Consumer Tribunal (NCT). This followed scrutiny by the NCR into their activities and levels of compliance.
The NCR conducted its investigation into the business activities of Liezl De Klerk, a debt counsellor from Clubview and Charmaine Moonasamy, a counsellor practicing in Lenasia South, Johannesburg, Gauteng.
“De Klerk failed to comply with the provisions of the NCA, its regulations, as well as her conditions of registration as a debt counsellor,” said Obed Tongoane, Chief Operating Officer at the NCR.
Tongoane said she did not utilise the prescribed form 16 for applications for debt review by consumers, and also excluded vital information.
According to Shepherd Silayi, a debt counsellor consultant at Credit Matters, this form is important when it comes to the legal matters pertaining to debt counseling clients. He said some debt counsellors even incorrectly complete this application process with clients telephonically.
De Klerk also charged consumers a fee of R75 in respect of obtaining a credit report and failed to maintain adequate records to demonstrate her compliance with the NCA. She failed to refer matters to court in order to obtain court orders within 60 days from the date of the application for debt review. De Klerk also received funds directly from consumers in contravention of her specific conditions of registration.
Moonasamy had her registration cancelled after an investigation into her business was carried out by the NCR, following numerous complaints lodged. The investigation revealed that she provided the NCR with false information, a criminal offence in terms of the NCA.
Tongoane said Moonasamy was subject to an administration order but when she applied to be registered as a debt counsellor, she indicated that she was not under administration.
She also received money from consumers who were under debt review with her which is a contravention of her specific condition of registration.
The National Consumer Tribunal ordered the cancellation of the debt counsellor’s registration with immediate effect, and that her conduct of providing the NCR with false information be declared prohibited conduct.
Know your counsellor
“Some debt counsellors don’t do things by the book because they are more concerned with making a profit than caring about the consumer,” said Silayi.
Consumers should do their homework on their counsellor before entering into an agreement. Silayi suggests calling the NCR to enquire about your counsellor’s background. If there were any complaints made about them the NCR will be able to inform you.