Consumer help: banking, loans, credit, debt

Do you have a complaint about your bank? Are you being ripped off by a loan shark, or threatened by a debt-recovery agent? Protect yourself from unfair practices, get to know your rights, find out if your lender is registered, or check your credit rating.

Consumers have legislative protections against misleading credit practices. ( Image: Brand South Africa/Graeme Williams)

National Credit Regulator

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. It is tasked with carrying out education, research, policy development, registration of industry participants, investigation of complaints, and ensuring the enforcement of the National Credit Act.

The Act requires the regulator to promote the development of an accessible credit market, particularly to address the needs of the historically disadvantaged, low-income earners, and remote, isolated or low-density communities.

The NCR is also tasked with registering credit providers, credit agencies’ and debt counsellors and handling disputes between consumers and agencies. You can lodge complaints against any institution offering credit, against a debt counsellor and a credit bureau provided the NCR has jurisdiction.

Debt counselling: you may apply to a debt counsellor to be declared over-indebted. See the NCR’s Consumer Assistance section.

Call centre: 086 062 7627

Ombudsman for Banking Services

Clients with complaints against their banks can approach the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) for assistance.

Got an unresolved dispute with your bank? A complaint about a banking service or product?

The Ombudsman for Banking Services provides an independent, free, informal and confidential dispute resolution service.

You must, however, first complain to your bank – the ombudsman will need your complaint reference number, as well as copies of correspondence between you and your bank.

Micro Finance Regulatory Council

The Micro Finance Regulatory Council is a private, non-profit body originally set up to regulate the micro-lending industry and protect the interests of consumers. Many of its functions and responsibilities now fall under the National Credit Regulator (see above).

The council’s website offers information on what your rights are and ways to protect yourself from unfair practices. If you would like to lodge a complaint against a micro lender, you will need to contact the NCR.

Credit problems

You can check your credit rating or get advice on credit problems from either of two major credit agencies’. The National Credit Act entitles you to one free credit report a year. Additional reports will set you back a small fee.

Experian

TransUnion

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Credit Information Ombud

If a credit bureau (see above) is unable to resolve your credit problem, your next line of recourse is the office of the Credit Information Ombud. A voluntary, independent association reporting to an industry council, the Credit Information Ombud seeks to resolve complaints from consumers and businesses that are negatively affected by credit information.

Call centre: 0861 OMBUDS (0861 662837)

Association of Debt Recovery Agents

A non-profit industry regulated body, ADRA will investigate complaints against its members.

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