As a South African credit consumer, you have rights. This covers you and ensures that you are not exploited and taken advantage of, while also protecting the credit provider from bad payers.
Your rights are protected under the National Credit Act 2005. “The National Credit Act (35 of 2005) is part of a comprehensive legislation overhaul designed to protect the consumer in the credit market and make credit and banking services more accessible. The National Credit Act (NCA) was introduced to promote and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans, promote a fair, transparent, competitive, sustainable, responsible, efficient, effective and accessible credit market and industry, and to protect consumers,” stated the Banking Association of South Africa.
The NCA further aims to simplify many of the grey areas around the South African credit market. The NCA together with the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (37 of 2002) and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (38 of 2001), affect the financial services industry help to enhance control for a better and more responsible credit practice and industry, the Association added.
While this may not be new to you, not everyone knows or understands their rights. Below are five of the more important rights you need to know, according to the NCA:
1. Applying for credit: Every legal adult has the right to apply for credit. However, there is no guarantee that you will be granted it. This hinges on your credit and financial record and status.
2. Credit being refused: Credit applicants are allowed to question why they were denied credit. The provider should offer the consumer a reason in writing. This too is the case when providers offer consumers a lower credit limit, or refuse the increase of their existing limit.
3. Information in an official language: You have the right to documentation pertaining to your credit agreement in any official language that you can understand and read, according to the NCA.
4. Receipt of documents: Any official document or communication ought to be delivered to a consumer either in person or at the credit provider’s business premises, as per NCA stipulation
5. Access and contesting of your credit information: The report you are privy to should disclose the same information that is displayed to other parties viewing your report. Should you contest the accuracy of any information on your record, the party that listed the information has 20 days in which to prove its accuracy. Should they fail to do so, the credit bureau is meant to remove the information from its records.
Should you have any credit-related queries, consumers are encouraged to contact the office of the Credit Ombud for free assistance at 0861 66 28 37. Alternatively you could use firstname.lastname@example.org or send an SMS to 44786.
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