A Fin24 reader asks:
I was listed on the ITC for an outstanding balance of R80 which I owed a doctor. I have since paid the doctor and don't owe anybody else a cent, apart from my home loan.
What must I do to clear my name on the credit listing?The Consumer Credit Protection Agency, which is the official credit bureau clearance agency, responds:
The National Credit Act 34 of 2005 became law in July 2007. This means that the rights of the consumer have been recognised for only about five years now. But it will take time for the majority of consumers to know and exercise their rights.
The National Credit Regulator (NCR) has ensured that all credit providers and credit bureaus are conversant with this law and the rights of the consumer. Yet most credit providers still take advantage of consumers' lack of information and deliberately transgress the law.
What most people don't know is that 99.9% of the time the credit provider has broken a few sections of the National Credit Act by placing a default listing on a consumer's credit record.
You might have discovered that you have a default listing on your record, then you approach the credit provider and pay up the debt in the hope that the listing will be removed.
You are disappointed to find out that the credit provider has only updated the listing to show that the account was "fully paid consequent to listing".
A default listing - regardless of whether it is paid up or not - will be retained on your record for two years. There is one way, and one way only, to remove this type of listing from your credit records.
This is by checking firstly if you ever received any notification in writing from the creditor, informing you of the intention to list your default payment on the credit bureau.
Secondly, did you ever receive 20 days' notification in writing of the impending listing of your account on the credit bureau?
If your answer to any of the above questions is no, then you know that your consumer rights have been violated and the law has been broken.
You have the right to challenge this listing and dispute it with the credit bureau that displays it on your record.
Once you have followed the proper channels to dispute the listing, it becomes the duty of the credit bureau to investigate your claim against the credit provider.
The NCR gives the credit bureau 20 days to complete the investigation and reach a resolution. Once the resolution is reached, the default listing will be removed from your credit records.
The application of these steps is practical and can be applied by everyone. But in the real world, where human beings are in control and at work, many things do not always go according to plan and schedule.
We therefore advise that you practise patience at all times when you challenge any of the issues above, since there are different parties involved.
You must make sure that you take responsibility to follow up on the dates and timeframes.
You also need to make sure that your information and/or evidence is precise and meets the requirements of the controlling bodies and authorities who handle these issues, especially court-related matters.
To avoid frustration, if you are uncertain of or intimidated by any aspect of the matter at hand, we recommend that you seek professional assistance.