Happy Human Rights Day to each and every South African! Human Rights Day and World Consumer Rights Day are highlighted on the government’s calendar, so Debt Sense Group has dedicated this time to raise awareness for consumers and their rights. DEBT does NOT discriminate – so know your rights!

According to South African human rights – everyone has the right to: equality, human dignity, freedom of movement, residence, language, culture and life. Having the opportunity to take out credit (to create debt) can surely help citizens to achieve some of these rights.

How exactly? Debt does not discriminate because it is available to most – helping citizens to live life to the fullest. The danger and red flags, however, come in when consumers are uninformed about their rights and their (or their creditors’) responsibilities regarding the borrowing or lending process of credit.

When you know your rights, DEBT won’t try to interfere with your financial future and might also not be able to indirectly, threaten your human right to (financial) freedom.

You need to make sure that you educate yourself about the following: what the National Credit Act (NCA) entails, what the role of the National Credit Regulator (NCR) is, and what your consumer rights are.

The National Credit Act in a nutshell:

The NCA (also referred to as ‘the Act’) became fully operational on 1 June 2007. The Act aims to provide improved standards of consumer information and attempts to promote a fair and non-discriminatory platform for consumer credit while making sure the process is regulated.

About the National Credit Regulator:

The name is evident – the NCR is the ‘regulating body’ of the South African credit industry. The regulator was established by the National Credit Act No. 34 of 2005.

The NCR, therefore, encourages/promotes the development of an accessible credit market – mainly involving underprivileged persons, low-income individuals and isolated communities. Credit bureaus, credit providers and debt counsellors are enforced by the NCR to comply with the Act.

Ten basic consumer rights:

Hereby, a few consumer rights as emphasised by the Act and the NCR. As South Africans we need to take note of:

  • Apply for credit
  • Receive protection against discrimination when applying for credit.
  • Reasons for the refusal of credit.
  • Be given documentation/information in an official language.
  • Be given information/documentation in plain or understandable language.
  • Receive documents relating to the relevant credit transaction/agreement.
  • Privacy of any personal information.
  • Access and challenge credit records and information held by credit bureaus.
  • Receive recurrent statements.
  • Apply for Debt Review (in the case of severe debt/over-indebtedness).

Yes, debt does not discriminate and is available to South African citizens. But consumers are encouraged this month to start making sure they know their rights. This can enable you to take care of your own financial situations and manage your credit obligations in such a way that you avoid a debt mess or entanglement.

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