What is debt counselling?
Debt counselling is a professional service provided for over-indebted consumers. It is a process regulated by the new National Credit Act and provides you, the consumer, with greater protection against creditors threatening to take legal action.
What are the benefits of debt counselling?
A Debt Counsellor will help alleviate your financial strain as they’re in a position to negotiate new debt restructure plans, repayment periods and even interest rates with credit providers. Debt restructure repayment amounts are based on what funds you have only after your necessary expenses have been paid. This ensures that your debt repayments are, as far as possible, affordable for you and your family and acceptable to creditors. Debt counselling can provide you with the relevant skills and information necessary to avoid further accumulation of debts by focusing on credit card processes, money management, and the use of cash over credit. Most importantly it provides you with an opportunity to regain control over your debt and your life, to look to the future with a better understanding of maintaining your financial wellbeing.
Which debt can be included?
All secured lending such as property and vehicle finance can be included in the debt counselling application except where judgement has been obtained or a Letter of Demand (also known as a Section 129 Notice) has been issued.Unsecured lending such as credit cards, store cards, and personal loans must also be included in the debt review application.Service agreements such as cell phone contracts, levies in arrears, electricity bills, pharmacy accounts, school fees etc are not included in the debt review process. Your accredited Debt Counsellor can however negotiate with these creditors on any arrear amounts.
Does debt review mean I get a payment holiday?
No, the debt review process does not provide you with payment holidays. You must still make monthly payments, as agreed with your accredited debt counsellor, from the first month you apply. If you fail to make your monthly payments you are in default and the Debt Counsellor and/or the credit providers could terminate your debt review. This places you at risk as your credit providers can proceed with legal action.
Must I continue to pay my accounts?
You will no longer pay your credit providers directly. If you are under debt review, the National Payment Distribution Agency (NPDA) collects the required funds from you and distributes the agreed monthly repayments to all your credit providers on your behalf.
What if I'm married?
Married in Community of Property (COP): both spouse’s income and expenses have to be calculated in a joint application and both parties debt must be included.
Married out of COP: generally a single application for the over-indebted party will be drafted for debt review. However, a joint application for debt review can be submitted if both parties agree. In the latter instance, both parties will be placed under debt review and the statuses updated with a credit bureau.
Married Antenuptual Agreement: only the over-indebted spouse could apply for debt review although a joint application could be applied for if both parties agreed to this.
Traditional Marriage: the application for debt review will be seen the same as a couple married in COP.
Living together: a joint application can be applied for by both parties.
What is the difference between debt counselling, administration and sequestration?
Debt counselling is where a Debt Counsellor develops a repayment plan that is affordable to the consumer and acceptable to the credit providers.
Administration is a legal process where the instalments are reduced, but credit providers only receive payment every three months and the term of repayment is much longer than that of being under debt counselling. Your debt must be less than R50,000 to qualify.
Sequestration is a legal process where assets are sold to try and lessen the debt and the court will appoint somebody to manage your finances. This is costly and you will be blacklisted for five years or until the court declares you as rehabilitated.
What fees will the consumer have to pay to the Debt Counsellors?
There is an initial R50 consultation fee. Other fees payable to the Debt Counsellor will be in accordance with the regulated fees as provided by the National Credit Regulator and will be included in your monthly instalment amounts. Refer to the NCR website for further information pertaining to the current debt counselling fee structures.
Can I apply for credit while under debt review with a Debt Counsellor?
Yes, provided it is for a consolidation loan to repay all your debts. Other than that no, because if you are under debt review you will be flagged on the credit bureau as such until a Clearance Certificate is issued.
Is there a way that my debt can be consolidated before I apply for debt review?
You can apply, in conjunction with your Debt Counsellor, for a consolidation loan to the relevant institutions. However this tends to only be granted in extreme cases.
Why can a Garnishee Order (Emolument Attachment Order) not be included?
It is already a Court Order and only a court can make a change to the Court Order. Consult with your Debt Counsellor for more information.
Can I consult a Debt Counsellor if I have received a Letter of Demand (Section 129 Notice)?
Yes, as a consumer you should visit a Debt Counsellor immediately if you have received a Letter of Demand. Debt Counsellors can negotiate arrangements on a Letter of Demand or Warrant of Execution, but if a court judgment has been taken they cannot include this debt under debt review.
When will I be under debt review?
Once you have successfully applied for debt review and the Debt Counsellor has notified your credit providers.
What proof will I have that I am under debt review?
You will be issued with a letter to this effect from the Debt Counsellor.
If I am NOT over-indebted, can I still apply for debt review?
No, although you can still contact a Debt Counsellor for advice on how to manage your finances better. The Debt Counsellor will discuss various options with you.
Will I still be able to use accounts and credit facilities?
No, once notification has been given to your credit providers, your accounts will be flagged, indicating to credit providers not to provide you with further credit because you are over-indebted. Once your debt has been paid in full and a Clearance Certificate is issued to you by your Debt Counsellor, the flag will be removed and you will be able to enter into new credit agreements.
If I have additional cash, can I pay the creditors directly?
All payment distributions must take place through a registered Payment Distribution Agency, such as the NPDA. Arrangements for bulk or once-off payments can be arranged through your Debt Counsellor or debt counselling administration office. You must then contact your Debt Counsellor to make arrangements to restructure your repayment plan.
If I am under Administration, can I still apply for debt counselling?
Yes, you can rescind an Administration order. Although Administration is a separate legal process, the outcome may still be similar to that of the debt review process. In other words, you will still be required to pay your creditors all monies due and the money is paid through an Administrator. The process may however, take longer than if you are just under debt review. Remember that in order to qualify for Administration, your debt cannot exceed R50,000.
Why can’t a bank or credit provider provide debt counselling?
It is a conflict of interest and forbidden by the National Credit Act.
What happens if a credit provider does not accept a repayment plan?
The credit provider will submit a counter proposal and the Debt Counsellor will consult with you regarding an increased repayment amount.If this is not affordable, the Debt Counsellor will refer the matter to a Court for a decision. There are risks involved, both financially and legally which your Debt Counsellor will explain, where applicable.
Will my name be listed at a credit bureau?
Yes, during the debt review period, your name will be listed with a credit bureau as being under debt review. Once the debt has been repaid the Debt Counsellor will issue a Clearance Certificate and instruct the relevant credit bureau to remove the debt counselling notation from your record. This means that all records that you were under debt review will be removed. Once this process is completed you should be able to access responsible new debt if required.
Where can I find out more information about the NCR and NCA?
What is the purpose of a credit bureau report and how do I obtain a credit bureau report?
A credit bureau is a company that gathers information and updates each consumer’s credit history. A credit bureau creates a record of a consumer’s credit information indicating how the consumer manages his/her credit. A consumer can obtain a credit report, free of charge once a year, by calling Experian on 0861 10 5665 or Transunion on 0861 482 482.
Will I be blacklisted if I apply for debt review?
No, there is no blacklisting but if the Debt Counsellor finds the consumer to be over-indebted, they will add a flag to the consumer’s credit record to indicate to credit providers not to provide you with further credit because you are already over-indebted. The flag will be removed once the debt has been repaid and when the consumer is no longer over-indebted.
At what stage will my listing be removed from the credit bureau?
The moment you are no longer in arrears and have paid off most debt excluding bonds, the Debt Counsellor can remove you from debt review and notify credit bureaus that you are no longer under debt review or over-indebted even though you may still have to pay off your bond. This is a sign that you are in a financially sound position.
Can I still go under debt review if I have been blacklisted by a creditor?
Yes, you can be placed under debt review at any time, provided a Debt Counsellor has declared you over-indebted and legal action has not yet commenced.
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