Young people in South Africa often hear how their parents struggled to get basic human rights. People of colour were not free to enter any store which they wished to make a purchase; therefore, you can only imagine what the criteria was for them to be able to apply and qualify for credit not to mention being treated fairly in the credit industry.
The question which arises is, are we making use of this freedom which has been granted to us, in terms of the National Credit Act (NCA)? And do we know what privileges the NCA provides to the consumer? Well, the NCA sets out the following free. services which the consumer can take advantage of:
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1. FREE Credit Report
Section 72 of the NCA states that the consumer has the right to receive a free credit report once annually from every registered credit bureau upon request. The National Credit Regulator reported in the Credit Bureau Monitor that in the 4th Quarter, December 2020, there has been a decrease of 6.87% for credit bureau requests, quarter-on-quarter.
The Credit Ombud wants to urge consumers to contact the credit bureaus and request their free credit report if they have not done so in the past 12 months.
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2. FREE assistance when logging a dispute at the credit bureau
Consumers should not take knowing their credit status for granted,
it impacts in your ability to be granted credit and for some consumers to even get employment.
As one needs to advance in their life, you might need the assistance of a loan or even
when trying times come, you might need to get an emergency loan and getting declined
due to information that is reflecting on your credit profile, which may even be outdated or
incorrect, will surely discourage you.
Whereas you could have requested for your free credit report prior to applying for credit
and should there have been any discrepancies, you have been afforded the right to
dispute the information at no cost to you as the consumer.
Once you have logged your dispute with the credit bureau, they will provide you with a
dispute reference number and you will give the credit bureau 20 working days to resolve your matter.
Should you not be satisfied with the outcome from the credit bureau, or you have not
received feedback within the 20 working days, then you may approach the Credit Ombud
for disputes against non-bank members, to further assist you.
3. FREE assistance at the Credit Ombud
The Credit Ombud promotes fairness, we will act in the best interests of all parties
, taking both sides of the consumer and credit provider into consideration and considering the merits of each case carefully.
The above sets out clearly that what was previously not granted to all
South Africans is now being freely provided to us, and the only thing that we are required to do, is to use all these opportunities to better our lives.
“The Freedom Charter proclaims that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it” and that “all shall be equal before the law”.
These rights have been enshrined in the new Constitution of the democratic South Africa.
And then the NCA further states that its purpose is ‘to promote and advance social and
economic welfare of South Africans; to promote a fair, transparent, competitive,
sustainable, responsible, efficient, effective and accessible credit market and industry,
and to protect consumers.’ Freedom was not for all, equality and fairness were unheard
of, and protection was only for a selected few.
Let us be responsible citizens and consumers and nurture what was fought for us. Freedom!”
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