Debt counselling is a service introduced via the National Credit Act (NCA) as a debt relief measure intended to assist over-indebted consumers struggling to keep up with debt commitments. As within every service industry, you will find good and bad practitioners. The service you get depends on the service provider you go to.
Here are some tips to ensure that you are not put at the mercy of a bad debt counsellor
1. The debt counsellor must be registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR)
The debt counselling industry is regulated by the National Credit Regulator and every debt counsellor must be registered with the NCR. Ask your debt counsellor for their NCR number and then visit the NCR website at www.ncr.org.za to check that they are on the NCR list of debt counsellors.
If a debt counsellor is not listed with the NCR, stop communicating with them immediately and look for an alternative company/debt counsellor to assist you.
2. Never pay monies into a debt counsellor’s account
The process of debt review makes use of NCR-registered and regulated Payment Distribution Agencies (PDAs) that will receive and distribute all your monthly payments accordingly.
3. Research your chosen debt counselling company on the internet
Technology allows us to thoroughly screen who we use to go under debt review with. Check out the debt counsellor’s website. Have a look at service reviews. Do a Google Maps search to verify the address.
If your debt counsellor does not come up under any of these searches, you may very well be dealing with scammer. Rather be safe than sorry and try another DC.
4. Ask questions and read the documents before you sign anything
A registered, credible debt counsellor will have no problem with you asking as many questions as it takes to make you feel comfortable. As with any financial documentation, do not sign anything that you are not 100% comfortable with. You can always refer to the NCR should you need clarity on anything.
5. A good debt counsellor keeps in touch
Debt counselling is an ongoing process and a good debt counsellor will be available to assist you with any queries or problems you may encounter along the way. You should get regular statements and your progress should be reviewed at least once a year.
If you cannot get hold of your debt counsellor via the normal channels of communication, then make contact with the NCR and enlist their assistance.
Debt counselling has come a long way
The debt counselling industry has come a long way in the last decade. Like with any new industry there have been hiccups along the way, but the industry has evolved and debt counsellors are committed to working alongside creditors to assist over-indebted South African consumers on the road to financial recovery and freedom.
Do not let the small percentage of bad service providers in the industry tarnish the good work of all the truly committed debt counsellors doing great work.