The National Credit Act (NCA) sets out that every twelve months, you may request your credit report from the credit bureaux at no cost.
A credit report details your borrowing and repayment history and provides insight into your current credit status.
South Africans are either, unaware or careless of this significant right afforded to them in terms of the NCA. This was evident in the Credit Bureau Monitor (CBM) released by the National Credit Regulator, for the period ending September 2022.
The CBM revealed that only 667,674 credit reports were issued to consumers by the different registered credit bureaux.
This was a small number when considering that the credit bureaux held records for 26.65 million credit active consumers during this time.
It is usually when consumers have been declined credit for a home loan, personal loan, store account or a new car, that the credit report is checked.
It is then that consumers are alerted to some information on the credit report being negative.
The Credit Ombud contact centre has heard many complaints from despairing and disgruntled consumers about being misled by credit repair specialists. These credit repair specialists promise that for a fee, they can ‘erase your bad credit’ or to ‘get you off the blacklist’ or even to remove judgments, listings, debt review indicators from your credit report.
Advertisements such as these appeal to consumers with poor credit history. Consumers are enticed into believing that the credit repair specialists can clean credit reports and improve credit scores without the outstanding debt being paid.
If you decide to engage with a credit repair offering, be cautious of entities that;
- Want you to pay upfront fees for credit repair services before any actual services are provided;
- Do not tell you your legal rights and what you can do yourself – for free;
- Ask you not to contact the credit bureaux directly.
- Advise you to dispute all information on your credit report without having ascertained the status of the accounts with service or credit providers.
Challenging the credit bureaux
You can also challenge the information on your credit report with the credit bureaux by lodging a dispute. You do not pay the credit bureaux to challenge the information and to correct your credit profile.
The credit bureaux will investigate your dispute and provide you with the outcome within 20 business days. Should the 20 business days have expired, and your dispute remains unresolved, or you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you can lodge a complaint with the Credit Ombud.
The Credit Ombud advises you to access your credit report to take control of your finances;
- Set a yearly reminder for yourself to check your credit report. This way, you are being proactive in ensuring that your credit profile remains accurate; that you are not subject to identity theft or even fraud.
- By inspecting your credit report, you are taking the right steps in ensuring that any outdated or inaccurate information is remedied.
- Reviewing your credit report allows you to be aware of the balances due on your accounts. This will help you to budget monthly.
- If you intend to apply for credit, it is prudent to check your credit report to ensure that all information is correct. If negative information reflects, this could be a good opportunity for you to fix this.
- Remember that nobody can view your credit report without your consent. Whether it is a credit provider or a prospective employer, you need to give them your consent to access your credit report.
- Should you find that there was an enquiry made on your credit report which you did not consent to, you may lodge your dispute with the credit bureau for that enquiry to be removed.
The Credit Ombud is a recognised industry ombud scheme that resolves disputes between consumers and subscribing members of the non-bank credit industry such as credit providers and credit bureaux. Our services are free.
This information was supplied by the Credit Ombud.
If you have a complaint about your clothing or furniture account, a micro-lender, non-bank vehicle or housing account, fraudulent listings, emolument attachment orders (garnishee orders) or general complaints about a credit bureaux listing, call 0861 66 28 37, visit www.creditombud.org.za, email email@example.com or send an sms to 44786.