Your rights when applying for credit
12 AUGUST 2023
You may be been denied credit before and wondered why, since all South Africans have the right to credit, according to the National Credit Act, right? Whether you are deemed credit-worthy, and how much you are entitled to, is another matter.The credit you qualify for is based on relevant criteria, such as the information reflected on your credit report. The good news is you have the right to request your credit status every 12 months, free of charge, from a credit bureau. The credit report reflects your credit history, including any defaults and accounts that have been in arrears for more than 90 days.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF CREDIT PROVIDERS AND THE CREDIT BUREAU
In the event that you default on payments, a credit provider must inform you within 20 business days before passing your information on to the credit bureau, of which you must be given a copy. Credit providers must inform credit bureaus within 7 days to remove adverse credit information once outstanding amounts have been settled. It is then up to the credit bureau to remove any adverse classification pertaining to consumer behaviour or enforcement action taken within an additional 7 days. Failure to do so, by either the credit provider or credit bureau, entitles you to issue a complaint with the National Credit Regulator.
CHALLENGING THE CREDIT BUREAU
If, upon receipt of your credit information, you disagree with the information reflected in your credit report, you have the right to challenge the credit status given and request proof of accuracy. If challenged, the credit bureau has 20 business days within which to provide you with the information, failing which the information must be removed from its records.If you believe that a credit provider has rejected your application for credit based on criteria other than information immediately relevant to your credit application, this is regarded as discriminatory and you have the right to challenge it. If your credit application was declined, and assuming there was no discrimination involved, it is most likely because of an unfavourable credit bureau report. As a South African consumer, you have the right to be given the name, address and contact details of the credit bureau who provided the information that led to the declined application.
PAPERWORK AND PRIVACY
Upon a request for the reason for a declined credit application, a credit provider must provide a reason in writing for deciding not to enter into a credit agreement with the consumer. This communication, as advised by the NCA, must be provided in an official language that you can read and understand. In addition, any related paperwork or documents must be delivered directly to you or to an address that you can easily gain access to. If, for any reason, you need a replacement copy of any of these documents, you have the right to request one (free of charge) within a year of the delivery of the original document. If you need a copy more than 12 months after the initial document was sent, a fee will need to be paid to the credit provider. Other paperwork that needs to be regularly supplied by credit providers are monthly statements. Any information that may be confidential which you have submitted to a credit provider may only be used with your explicit consent and for the sole purpose which you have conceded to. The only exception is if the use of such information is a requirement in terms of the NCA or other relevant legislation.
If you have any issues with regard to credit agreements and credit providers, or if you have a complaint about a credit bureau, you can contact the office of the Credit Ombud for free assistance on 0861 66 28 37 or email@example.com, or send an SMS to 44786.