Your Rights as a Consumer – Part 2

Building on our Part 1 exploration of your rights as a consumer, the following information is important for you to know in all your dealings with credit providers.

Building on our Part 1 exploration of your rights as a consumer, the following information is important for you to know in all your dealings with credit providers.

  • Confidentiality – All people involved must take steps to protect your information. Credit bureaus must protect all of the credit information they have for all consumers. Credit providers must give you the option of being excluded from marketing, telemarketing or customer lists that are sold or given to third parties. Credit providers may only use the information they have about you for the purpose you gave it to them.
  • Marketing of Credit – Agents of credit are not allowed to sell credit door to door, at your work, or at your home unless you have specifically invited them or your employer has arranged it. Negative option credit is prohibited. This means that credit providers may not send you an offer of credit that is valid unless you refuse it within a certain amount of time. Adverts used by credit providers may not be misleading, or use terms like ‘blacklisted welcome’ or ‘free’. They may also not harass anyone, or try to persuade anyone to apply for credit.
  • Termination and Settlement of Agreements – You have the right to fully pay the amount you owe at any time and end the agreement. For home loans or agreements larger than R250 000, you may have to pay a termination charge of not more than three months’ interest.
  • Surrender of Goods – You also have the right to return goods that are under a credit agreement if they are under instalment agreement (like buying furniture or a TV from a retailer) – the credit provider must sell the goods and use that money to settle the agreement, but you, as consumer, will be responsible for the difference if the good is worth less than when you bought it. You must notify the credit provider of the termination of agreement in writing, and then return the goods. They have to notify you of the estimated value of the good within 10 days.
  • Debt Enforcement – You are protected in terms of the collection of outstanding debt from a credit provider, for example letters they have to send to you, how long you must be in default of payment before they can take legal action against you, and how the procedures in the magistrate’s court are prescribed in terms of legislation.
  • Debt Counselling – You have the right to approach a debt counsellor in the event that you cannot pay your debts. The debt counsellor will help you to restructure and rearrange your debt repayments if you are found over-indebted. This arrangement will be made an order of the court and you will be under debt review until your debt is settled and a clearance certificate is issued, or the court order is removed. You will not have access to further credit during this process.

Make sure that you know your rights, but also the rights of your credit provider, so that you can make informed decisions about where to borrow from. Also, make sure that you are fulfilling your responsibility as a consumer by knowing how much you can afford to borrow, and what your credit profile looks like to credit providers.

By visiting My Credit Check you have unlimited free access to your credit score and profile so that you can make sure that all your information is correct: Checking your financial health is your responsibility.