For immediate release:
24 June 2020
Statement of account
Right to receive documents - 65. (1) Every document that is required to be delivered to a consumer in terms of this Act must be delivered in the prescribed manner, if any.
The above is one of the rights of consumers as per the National Credit Act. The National Credit Act (NCA) was introduced to create a fair and non–discriminatory marketplace for access to consumer credit, by among other provisions, prohibiting certain unfair credit and credit-marketing practices and promoting responsible credit granting. The Act also introduced several important consumer rights. One of these include the Right to receive documents. Every document that is required to be delivered to a consumer in terms of the NCA must be delivered either in person at the business premises of the credit provider by ordinary mail; prepaid registered post; fax; email; or printable webpage. These ‘Documents’ include your credit agreement and your monthly statement of account or any other document pertaining to your account/debt.
Why is it vital to receive documents, to the point that it’s even included in your rights as a consumer? The documents are proof of the agreement between the consumer and the credit provider and the monthly statements are to keep track of payments being made by the consumer as per the agreement. The ‘documents’ are there to protect both the credit provider and consumer.
The NCA deals with obligations of a credit provider vis-à-vis statements of account. Credit providers must deliver periodic statements in terms of Section 108. In respect of mortgage bonds, a credit provider would be required to furnish statements every six months; on secured loans, instalment agreements and lease agreements, every two months; and for all other credit agreements, monthly. If a consumer wishes to settle a credit agreement, the credit provider may not charge for the settlement statement.
The Credit Ombud often receives disputes where consumers’ dispute having received their statements of account, challenging the interest and charges to the account or may have other queries on the amounts debited. The jurisdiction of the Credit Ombud, having been tasked with enforcing fairness within the credit industry, continues to play a significant role by assisting both consumers and credit providers in reaching amicable resolutions in disputes relating to their statements of account, among others.
Recently, a consumer logged a dispute relating to a credit agreement signed between the parties in 2003. The consumer went on to explain that no statement of the account was provided notwithstanding that the account was closed. During October 2019, the consumer began receiving smses demanding payment regarding purchases made on the account. The consumer disputed having made the purchases and alleged that the purchases were, in fact, fraudulent. While there were more than one issue raised by the consumer, i.e. that the account was allegedly closed and that fraudulent purchase had been made on the account, the Credit Ombud forwarded communication to the credit provider requesting a formal response to the issues raised including a request for a comprehensive statement of account. This was necessary to gather the facts on the dispute. In receiving the comprehensive statement of account and additional supporting documents, like proof of payment, specimen signatures and an affidavit, our office was able to engage with both parties to finalize an assessment on the dispute. We scrutinized all payments made, interest and other charges debited to the account and established that notwithstanding full payment of the outstanding balance, no ‘paid-up’ letter had been furnished to the consumer. In effect the account had remained active and had been incurring monthly charges when a fraudster made purchases on the account. The credit provider was keen to finalize the dispute after having conducted an in-house forensic investigation into the fraud allegations made. The balance on the account was written off and the consumer was provided with a ‘paid-up’ letter.
The above illustrates the importance of receiving a statement of account and a ‘paid-up’ letter.
Should a consumer dispute a debit or credit appearing on the statement of account or have any other query relating to the outstanding balance due to interest or cost charges, the consumer must initially approach the credit provider. The credit provider would then be able to clarify the consumer’s queries. Where necessary, if an error has been established, the statement of account may be recalibrated, and an updated statement provided to the consumer. Should the dispute remain unresolved, the Credit Ombud shall be able to investigate the matter. The Credit Ombud also assists with complaints against our members relating to over-charging of interest, hand-over amounts, duplicate collections, fraud, and other issues relating to an account.
Should you wish to log a dispute, provided you have followed the process of allowing the creditor 20 working days to resolve your matter, you may do so by calling us on 0861 662 837; sending a SMS to 44786 (free of charge); emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our website complaint form which can be accessed at www.creditombud.org,za.
Press Release – May 2020
DISCLOSURE FOR RETURNS AND REFUND POLICIES DURING LEVEL 4 LOCKDOWN
The CGSO has received several complaints relating to returns, especially of clothing during the Level 4 lockdown. We are advised that some clothing suppliers are not allowing fittings or returns, and that consumers only find out about this when they attempt to return.
Ms Magauta Mphahlele, the CGSO Ombudsman advised that “lockdown related returns policies must be judged against the very real health concerns regarding the spread of the virus and measures to mitigate this. “The CGSO fully understands why suppliers would want to limit the fitting and return of clothing because of the potential of the virus to be spread. However, a balance must be struck between the very necessary measures required to minimise the spread of the virus and compliance with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA)”.
In terms of the CPA, suppliers of goods and services have the right to implement their own returns and refunds policies as long as these do not breach the general right to choose and examine goods provided for in section 18 and the right to return goods provided for in sections 20 and 56 of the CPA. “At the same time, the pandemic and the resulting lockdown restrictions to curb its spread presents new challenges that are not necessarily fully provided for in current laws. In the absence of clear legal directives, we must find a middle ground that will allow for the management of the spread of the virus and taking care of consumers’ rights”, said the Ombudsman.
Section 20 provides as follows:
(1) This section is in addition to and not in substitution for—
(a) the right to return unsafe or defective goods, contemplated in section 56; or
(b) any other right in law between a supplier and consumer to return goods and receive a refund.
(2) Subject to subsections (3) to (6), the consumer may return goods to the supplier, and receive a full refund of any consideration paid for those goods, if the supplier has delivered—
(a) goods to the consumer in terms of an agreement arising out of direct marketing, and the consumer has rescinded that agreement during the cooling off period, in accordance with section 16;
(b) goods that the consumer did not have an opportunity to examine before delivery, and the consumer has rejected delivery of those goods for any of the reasons contemplated in section 19(5);
(c) a mixture of goods, and the consumer has refused delivery of any of those goods, as contemplated in section 19(8); or
(d) goods intended to satisfy a particular purpose communicated to the supplier as contemplated in section 55(3), and within 10 business days after delivery to the consumer, the goods have been found to be unsuitable for that particular purpose.
(3) Subsection (2) does not apply with respect to any goods if—
(a) for reasons of public health or otherwise, a public regulation prohibits the return of those goods to a supplier once they have been supplied to, or at the direction of, a consumer; or
(b) after having been supplied to, or at the direction of, the consumer, the goods have been partially or entirely disassembled, physically altered, permanently installed, affixed, attached, joined or added to, blended or combined with, or embedded within, other goods or property.
The above section means that if a consumer walks into a clothing store and buys clothing without fitting them, the store is under no legal obligation to accept the return of the clothing as long as the clothing or any other goods are not defective. In this instance the consumer was allowed to exercise the discretion whether to fit or not so the suppliers cannot be held liable if the clothes do not fit or the consumer changes their mind for any other reason. However, where the supplier specifically prohibits fitting then there would be a possible contravention of the CPA as section 18 of the CPA accords the consumer the right to choose and examine goods displayed for sale to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
Where the consumer was accorded the right to choose and examine goods and the goods are not defective, suppliers can set their own refunds and returns policies. Currently for change of mind returns, eg clothes not fitting etc, some suppliers would require that clothing be returned within a specific number of days, with the price tag attached and a receipt. Some will have a no returns and refunds policy. These types of policies fall outside the ambit of the CPA and are entirely up to suppliers.
Fitting, returns and refunds are not allowed for some items where public regulation prohibits such. In terms of section 20(3)(a) above, the consumer has no right of return if for reasons of public health, a public regulation prohibits the return of those goods. While there are valid public health concerns regarding the spread of the virus, the CGSO is of the view that it may be possible to mitigate this risk by allowing fitting and returns under strict health conditions to accord the consumer the right to ensure that the clothes are fit for purpose and minimise the need for clothes to be returned. Without allowing consumers to fit, it is difficult to see how a no return policy can be justified, even under lockdown.
As consumers are also purchasing through online platforms, it is important to note the provisions of section 44 of the ECT Act as well as section 18(3) of the CPA which require goods that are bought on the basis of a sample or a description (from a catalogue or online platform for example), to fit the sample and description when delivered. If not, the consumer has a right of return and refund. At the same time Section 44 of the ECT Act allows the right to return goods without reason within 7 days of receipt of the goods.
In order to minimise disputes, it is important that consumers are well informed about any new lockdown return and refund policies. The FAQs on websites and other online platforms should be updated to cover these new policies. The new policies should also be prominently displayed in store and on other platforms so that consumers can make informed decisions prior to purchasing. Clear directives on the safe handling of goods to minimise the spread of the virus should be communicated including any measures that the suppliers will implement to disinfect returned clothing.
For Immediate Release
15 January 2020
Contact : Kabelo Teme
Telephone : 0119934973
Email : email@example.com
Website : www.creditombud.org.za
Credit is expensive, be a smart consumer and borrow wisely!
The festive season is over and it’s back to school season for many consumers. For some, there may be a need to borrow money to take care of January expenses such as school fees, uniform, transport and others. “Consumers are reminded that credit is expensive, therefore they should only borrow when it is absolutely necessary to do so and only from credit providers registered with the National Credit Regulator(NCR)”, says Adv. Kedilatile Legodi, Acting Manager: Education and Communication at the NCR.
Be a credit smart consumer by understanding the total cost of the credit you are applying for before you sign on the dotted line. The cost of credit includes interest, once off initiation fees, monthly service fees, credit life insurance, etc. To understand the cost of credit, consumers should be given a pre-agreement statement and quotation that disclose the total amount repayable for the money borrowed inclusive of related costs at the end of the repayment period. “These documents are valid for five (5) business days and intended to assist the consumer to shop around for better deals and make an informed decision”, adds Legodi.
According to the National Credit Act (NCA), consumers have a right to receive information in plain and understandable language, and to receive reasons from the credit provider why their credit application may have been declined. Consumers are further advised to be cautious of the unregistered credit providers and only borrow money from NCR registered credit providers.” Unregistered credit providers usually charge excessive interest rates that are not in line with the NCA, do not conduct affordability assessments and use unlawful and prohibited tactics to collect on their debt such as retaining consumers’ identity documents, bank cards / pin numbers, SASSA cards and others”, cautions Legodi.
Legodi stresses that it is the consumer’s obligation to be truthful and honest when applying for credit by disclosing all relevant and correct information regarding their financial status. “Credit that is granted based on incorrect financial disclosure by the consumer, may lead to inability to repay the debt resulting in financial distress”, concludes Legodi.
Below are helpful tips that Adv. Legodi offer to consumers when borrowing money:
- Never ever agree to pay any upfront costs / fees – Many consumers are duped into paying upfront fees labelled as “admin fees”, “lawyer’s fees”, “release fees” etc. when borrowing money from unscrupulous/fake/unlawful entities usually found online. In most cases, consumers lose their money (upfront payment) without getting any of the money they have borrowed;
- Borrow only when it is absolutely necessary to do so and avoid borrowing money for consumables such as groceries;
- Do not sign a blank credit agreement/document, read the content first, understand, ask relevant questions and when satisfied sign;
- Consider credit insurance – Familiarise yourself with the terms of the credit insurance to avoid surprises when you most need the cover from the insurance. Credit insurance can be a life saver when you cannot repay the debt for reasons such as unemployment, disability and others;
- Pay your debts on time – Paying late or not paying the full instalment will adversely/negatively affect your credit rating and possibly your ability to take out credit in the future. If you think you cannot meet your monthly instalments, contact your credit provider immediately and try to re-arrange payments. Do not wait until you skip payments;
- Create a monthly budget and stick to it; and
- Check your credit report regularly.
About The National Credit Regulator
The National Credit Regulator (NCR) was established in terms of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (NCA) and is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. The NCR is mandated with the registration of Credit Providers, Credit Bureaus, Debt Counsellors, Payment Distribution Agents, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Agents; and monitoring their conduct in compliance with the National Credit Act as amended. The National Credit Regulator offers education and protection to consumers of credit in promotion of a South African credit market that is fair, transparent, accessible and dynamic.
THE CGSO WARNS THE PUBLIC ABOUT S.A. TRAMPOLINE
The Office of the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) is the consumer goods and services industry’s compulsory Ombud scheme which has been accredited by the Minister of Trade and Industry in terms of section 82(2) of the Consumer Protection Act(CPA). The CGSO enforces the Consumer Goods and Services Industry Code of Conduct by mediating disputes between consumers and suppliers of goods and services. The service is free to consumers.
The CGSO warns the public against making online purchases from SA Trampoline. SA Trampoline is an online business which manufactures and installs trampolines. The CGSO has received numerous complaints from consumers who have made a full payment or deposits ranging between R3200 and R6300 to SA Trampoline on the promise that the goods would be delivered and installed within 7 to 14 working days. The company has, after numerous communications from the consumers and our office failed to deliver the goods or refund consumers. In most cases more than three months had passed since the orders were placed. The owner of the company has not disputed receiving the monies but has failed to honour his promises to deliver and install the goods.
“While we will escalate the matter to the National Consumer Commission for further investigation and possible prosecution, we cannot allow this supplier to continue taking hard earned monies from consumers with the intention not to deliver the goods, said Ms Magauta Mphahlele, the Ombudsman. Ms Mphahlele further said that the CGSO Code requires them to create consumer awareness and also publish the type of complaints they receive as well as the suppliers against whom the complaints are lodged. “Many suppliers cooperate with our office when complaints are lodged against them but we still have a sizeable percentage that acts like SA Trampoline. We will continue to publish the names of non-cooperative suppliers, especially in instances where they take peoples monies with no intention to deliver the goods or services” said Ms Mphahlele.
SA Trampoline is in possible contravention of section 19 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) which provides that a supplier is generally responsible for the delivery of goods or the performance of the services on the agreed date and at the agreed time or within reasonable time, and at the agreed place unless the agreement between the parties provides differently. Where the supplier fails to deliver as promised, the consumer is entitled to cancel the agreement without any penalty and receive a refund. In some instances, section 46 of the Electronic Communication and Transactions Act (“ECTA”) will apply. It provides that “The supplier must execute the order within 30 days after the day on which the supplier received the order, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. (2) Where a supplier has failed to execute the order within 30 days or within the agreed period, the consumer may cancel the agreement with seven days’ written notice. (3) If a supplier is unable to perform in terms of the agreement on the grounds that the goods or services ordered are unavailable, the supplier must immediately notify the consumer of this fact and refund any payments within 30 days after the date of such notification.”
The CGSO urges consumers to verify the credentials of online suppliers and their track record in delivering what they promise before paying upfront for orders.
ISSUED BY OUMA RAMARU ON BEHALF THE CONSUMER GOODS AND SERVICES OMBUD
TEL: (011) 781-2607 CELL: 073 899 9551
CGSO sharecall helpline (0860 000272)
--------------------------------------------------------------- Big petrol price cut clipped by hike in electricity costsFin24 correspondent
- If price reductions are sustained, it will have a beneficial effect for all consumers, SA National Consumer Union deputy chairperson Clif Johnston told Fin24.
“Consumers buying petrol, diesel, paraffin and gas will benefit immediately – for example refuelling a typical car should work out some R30-R40 cheaper after the reduction.”
However, he noted that other consumers will not be so lucky as bus and taxi fares are unlikely to go down.
“Service providers tend to cash in on cost reductions rather than to pass the savings on to consumers. In the longer run a lower fuel price should mean that public transport prices, and indeed prices of general goods and services, should not increase as much as if the current fuel prices were to be sustained,” said Johnston.
Sancu urged consumers to work out a budget and to spend wisely.
However, economists says the reduction in fuel prices serves to neutralise the costs of the increase in electricity tariffs.
“The decrease in fuel certainly comes as a relief without a doubt for consumers following the tightening of the screws on them over the past few years due to low economic growth and the higher taxes and the fear of retrenchment in a weak economy,” director and chief economist at Econometrix, Azar Jammine told Fin24.
He said what this amounts to is a decrease of around 6% in the price of petrol and diesel, but this accounts for about 4.5% of disposable income of most people.
“Essentially it will reduce the cost of living by R2.50 for every R1000 that people have.”
Jammine pointed out the difference is that while electricity tariffs will remain in place for the whole year, petrol and diesel prices are volatile.
Price of electricity
Economist Mike Schüssler told Fin24 the decrease in fuel costs is good news and might strengthen the case for interest rates cuts as it helps to stabilise the inflation rate which was at 4.5% last month.
“The problem however is the electricity price increase that will come into effect tomorrow [Monday] for most municipalities so it negates the petrol price drop.”
Businesstech 23.5.2019 South Africans are spending less on their weekly shopping trip Staff Writer 22 May 2019 South African shoppers are spending less, but are still stretching their wallets, according to Tiger Brand’s interim report for the six months ending March 2019. Tiger Brands, which carries brands including Koo canned foods, All Gold, and Tastic rice, said that revenue from continuing operations fell 2% to R15.4 billion in the interim period. Group operating income declined 24% to R1.5 billion, while headline earnings per share (HEPS) from continuing operations was down 12% to 762 cents, from 868 cents. The group declared an interim dividend of 321 cents per share, down 15% due to recent changes in the group’s dividend policy. It also declared a special dividend of 306 cents per share. In its report, Tiger Brands highlighted data from Nielsen shopping surveys showing that South Africans spend around R11,650 on groceries annually – a 10% decline compared to July 2018. This spend is spread out across 60 shopping trips a year, with the average basket value being R194 – R15 less than in July 2018. The report cites Eskom as a growing concern due to its destabilising fiscal position, exchange rate volatility and the fact that disposable income has been impacted by electricity and fuel inflation. How South Africans are shopping The report also shows that South Africans are increasingly shopping on promotion, with 40% of respondents stating that they read newspaper broadsheets for specials, while 65% said that they actively compare prices across brands. This has lead to changes in what South Africans are buying, Tiger Brands said. It found that that South Africans are spending more on: Toilet paper Soya-based substitutes Canned pilchards Soap Personal care Baby Ready-to-eat cereals Ingredients In comparison, it found that South Africans are spending less on: Maize meal Fresh/frozen chicken Chilled processed meats Flour Cooking oil -------------------------------------------------------- MEDIA RELEASE NATIONAL CREDIT REGULATOR 9.4.2019 9 April 2019 Tribunal finds that the on the road fee, admin fee and handling fee charged by Volkswagen Financial Services South Africa (Pty) Ltd on credit agreements are unlawful The National Consumer Tribunal (Tribunal) has handed down judgment confirming a Compliance Notice issued by the National Credit Regulator (NCR) to Volkswagen Financial Services South Africa (Pty) Ltd for charging consumers the “on the road” fee, admin fee and handling fee on credit agreements. In its judgment, the Tribunal found that the “on the road” fee, admin fee and handling fee charged by Volkswagen Financial Services to consumers on credit agreements are not permitted by the National Credit Act (the Act). The Tribunal ordered Volkswagen Financial Services to – cease the practice and/or conduct of charging consumers the “on the road”, admin and handling fees on credit agreements from 10 April 2019 and to submit written confirmation to the NCR to this effect; calculate the total amount of charges, fees or interest levied on the “on the road”, admin and handling fees; and refund all those consumers charges, fees or interest levied and submit a report by independent auditors to the NCR. “The NCR welcomes this judgment as it affirms the protection given to consumers by the National Credit Act against illegal charges and fees on credit agreements”, says Nomsa Motshegare, Chief Executive Officer of the NCR. The NCR will continue to conduct industry-wide investigations on fees and charges on credit agreements to root out illegal charges and fees on credit agreements. Ends ------------------------------------- LOAD SHEDDING AND FOOD SAFETY South Africa is experiencing regular load shedding. The duration and frequency of load shedding will potentially affect the safety of food in a refrigerator. Read below for important information and guidance. Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power is out for no more than 4 hours, the refrigerator door is kept shut AND the fridge was running at 4 °C at the time of load shedding. Perishable foods are the most susceptible to spoilage and food safety concerns. Examples are: * Fresh meat * Fresh poultry * Fresh fish * Milk * Soft cheeses * Possibly even leftovers, depending on how long they were in the fridge prior to load shedding. Fridges should run at no higher than 4 °C, but we know that most consumer fridges run at higher temperatures in South Africa. Therefore, the 4 hour time period mentioned above, may be even shorter in such cases. It is then best to discard foods in the above list if the outage is longer than 2 hours AND where the fridge temperature is higher than 4 °C. The only way to know whether desirable fridge temperatures have been exceeded is to keep a thermometer in the refrigerator. Different bacteria start growing at different minimum temperatures, but for every 1 degree Celsius increase above that minimum growth temperature, bacteria in food grow (double themselves) faster. It is therefore essential to keep the door closed to ensure that the temperature stays as low as possible during the power outage. Frozen foods will remain frozen for about 48 hours, again if the freezer door is kept closed. If any perishable foods start to thaw for whatever reason, they CANNOT be re-frozen and should be cooked as soon as possible. Consumers should never taste these foods to determine whether they are safe to possibly keep them. Considering the cost of food, one is loathe to throw it away, however you cannot taste or smell when a food is unsafe. When a food smells “off” it usually means spoilage and the food should not be consumed, but unsafe food may still smell and taste perfectly fine. If one knows the load shedding schedule, one can prepare for it as follows: 1. Make sure the refrigerator is running at 4 °C or as close as possible. 2. Freeze refrigerated items that can be frozen such as milk, leftovers, fresh meat and poultry, fish etc that you may not need immediately. 3. If no freezer is available, buy smaller quantities of fresh food, cook and consume them quickly rather than buying in bulk and refrigerating those items for long periods of time. 4. Consider buying long-life products, such as sterile or UHT beverages and canned goods, all of which have a long shelf-life outside the refrigerator, while unopened. Once open however, they too must be refrigerated. 5 Frozen ice packs can also be packed around perishable foods in the refrigerator to keep those foods cold for as long as possible, during load shedding. For food that is to be eaten cooked, it is always advisable to cook it thoroughly, even when there is no load shedding. Copyright 2019 Anelich Consulting Please visit Dr Lucia Anelich’s web page for more information on Food Safety Matters : http://anelichconsulting.co.za ---------------------------------------- FNB and ABSA recently announced that they will be automatically reversing unauthorised debit orders from companies identified as issuing such orders fraudulently. They have also indicated that they will reverse service charges associated with these unauthorised debit orders. SANCU has been warning banks for the past 7 years that the current system of debit orders is wide open to such fraud. Consumers have long been complaining about unauthorised debit orders and the inability of banks to safeguard accounts by allowing only pre-approved debit orders to be processed. If the banks had listened to SANCU earlier they would not have found themselves in the current mess. An improved system is said to on the way, but its introduction has been delayed. We shall see ... See the following link: https://www.enca.com/business/absa-follows-fnbs-lead-reversing-fraudulent-debit-orders ------------------------------------------------------------ SANCU would like to remind consumers that as from 1 March unused cellphone data can be rolled over to the following month on all networks (that probably means unused data from February will not be rolled over; only from the end of March onwards). Vodacom previously indicated there would be a charge on a sliding scale of up to R49 to roll over data, but after a huge public outcry and criticism from ICASA it has since announced that it will no longer charge to roll over data, which is in line with the other networks. See the following link: https://www.businessinsider.co.za/vodacom-data-rollover-charges-dropped-r49-will-be-free-2019-2 ------------------------------ ABSA WARNS OF UPSURGE IN DIGITAL BANKING FRAUD CASES Staff Writer Businesstech 2.2.2018 Absa has urged customers to always be vigilant against any attempt to dupe them into handing over their “keys to the safe” – card PIN, card CVV, card One Time PIN (OTP), online banking PIN, online banking Password – to third parties. There is an upsurge in social engineering globally, it said. “Fraudsters use personal data from data breaches to impersonate banks with the sole purpose of tricking customers into granting them access to their money and bank accounts.” Citing external studies, Absa said that during the first half of 2018, 4.5 billion customer data records globally were reported to have been compromised – 86% of all consumer information has been compromised through spam emails and data breaches. Studies also showed that 97% of customers struggle to differentiate between a Phishing email and a legitimate email. Phishing – impersonation through emails, commonly containing hyperlinks Vishing – impersonation through phone calls SMShing – impersonation through text messages where the customer is requested to open the link and complete the fields In South Africa, digital banking fraud cases increased by 64% over the past year; these impact the entire financial services industry, Absa said. Absa head of fraud strategy, Ulrich Janse Van Rensburg, said customers should never approve transaction requests via the mobile banking application (App) if they’re not transacting or if they are not responsible for the transaction. Absa will never request for its customers’ “keys to the safe” for any reason whatsoever, the bank said. ----------------- Media Release For Immediate Release January 2019 If you have to borrow, borrow wisely! The festive season is over and reality has dawned that we are in a new year which is meant to at least bring all things new. Unfortunately, if consumers did not spend wisely during last year, this will mean that they will have to start the year on a tough note with taking out credit being the only option for some. Didi Sebothoma, Acting Manager: Education & Communication at the National Credit regulator (NCR) says there are many reasons why consumers might need to borrow at this time of the year. It may be because of reckless spending last year, loss of jobs, unplanned costs such as medical, death etc. We have seen some consumers battling financially last year as the VAT increased and petrol increases making things expensive for consumers. However, statistics from the National Credit Regulator shows that the consumer credit health has slightly improved from 38.9% to 37.4% .This number signifies consumers / accounts that are three or more months in arrears. “Consumers who need to borrow money to get by should only borrow from registered credit providers”, says Sebothoma. “They should never leave their bank cards, SASSA cards, PINs and identity documents with credit providers”, he adds. It is a criminal offence for a credit provider to take and retain consumers’ instruments. Consumers should also refuse to pay any upfront payments before they are granted a loan. They should report credit providers who charge them such fees to the National Credit Regulator. Amongst, other things, the NCR regulates interest and fees that credit providers should charge consumers when they take out credit. There are different interest rates for different credit types and most of these are calculated using the repurchase rate (repo rate). The repo rate remains unchanged at 6.75%. For mortgage agreements, the maximum interest rate credit providers can charge a consumer is 18.75% per annum. Credit facilities which include credit cards, overdrafts and petrol cards is 20.75% per annum; unsecured credit transactions which consist mainly of personal loans is 27.75% per annum; developmental credit agreements is 33.75% per annum; short-term transactions is 5 % per month on the first loan then 3% per month on subsequent loans; other credit which includes furniture and vehicle finance is 23.75% per annum; and incidental credit is 2% per month. Credit providers are also allowed to charge consumers an initiation fee. This is a fee charged to consumers for entering into credit agreements with credit providers. An initiation fee may never exceed 15% of the principal debt. A service fee can also be charged by the credit provider for servicing the credit agreement and it must not exceed R60 excluding VAT. Other fees that credit providers can charge include credit life insurance which will cover the credit agreement in case the consumer dies, gets retrenched or disabled whilst they still owe the credit provider. This fee is also capped. There is also a default administration charge which is a fee chargeable by credit providers if the consumer’s account is in arrears. It basically relates to costs incurred by credit providers in advising the consumer that their account is in arrears. Collection costs are costs incurred by a credit provider in attempting to collect outstanding or overdue debt from a consumer. They can also charge costs of an extended warranty agreement, delivery, installation, initial fuelling charges, connection fees, levies or charges, taxes, license or registration fees. Sebothoma advises consumers to get a pre-agreement statement and quotation when seeking credit as these will outline the cost of credit for the proposed agreement. “Consumers should not rush to signing anything at this point until they are clear and certain”, he adds. He concludes by advising consumers to aim at paying off their debt and building up savings over the longer term. ENDS ------------------------------ Media Release For Immediate Release January 2019 National Credit Regulator issues a public warning against fake loan scams [JOHANNEBURG] The National Credit Regulator (NCR) has warned consumers to be wary of fake credit providers who attempt to entrap consumers in loan scams. These scams typically target those who are in distressed financial circumstances and looking for a loan, using slogans such as “blacklisted” or “debt review clients welcome” says Jacqueline Peters, Manager: Investigations and Enforcement at the NCR. The increase in these types of scams comes at a time when credit approvals have decreased and consumers are finding themselves to be financially stretched. This is the time to be more vigilant as it is in the vulnerable times that we should make wise decisions. The National Credit Act prohibits all advertisements for credit from utilising these prohibited terms and consumers should avoid engaging with any credit provider who advertises in this manner, she added. The fake credit providers would generally use the details of legitimate credit providers and attempt to make one believe that they are endorsed by government agencies such as the NCR, one must not be misled and can look out for the typical signs. Below is general advise for consumers to avoid scams: Treat all unexpected calls, emails and sms messages with Don’t assume they’re genuine, even if the person seems to know some basic information about you, such as your name; Look out for the name on all e-mails, in case it is a ‘clone company’ pretending to be a real credit provider. Do not pay any upfront fees to release your loans. The National Credit Act does not allow credit providers to request upfront payments for the release of a loan, if the ‘credit provider makes this request, do not engage further and report to the relevant authorities, such as the NCR or the SAPS; Be aware of platforms and hidden fees included for sourcing a loan; Don’t be pressured into acting quickly. A genuine credit provider won’t mind waiting if you want time to think and compare the costs of credit by using a quotation; Do not engage with credit providers who do not conduct affordability assessments. Furthermore, never give false or incorrect information on a credit application about your financial affairs. Always disclose your financial obligations and living expenses fully. Never borrow from an unregistered credit provider. ‘If the proposal is too good to be true, it usually is’. If a consumer is unsure or in doubt about the legitimacy of the credit provider or agreement, they should contact the NCR on (011 554 2600/2700 or visit our website at www.ncr.org.za. Issued by: The National Credit Regulator ------------------------------------------------------------
The South African Bureau of Standards recently issued a national standard giving guidelines to providers for the assessment and improvement of energy services to users. This standard, SANS 50007:2018 applies to energy suppliers across the board, including Eskom, Municipalities that distribute electricity, and also to micro-grids. It is an identical adoption of the International Standard, ISO 50007:2017, which was developed with a very wide range of inputs from all over the world. It provides valuable guidance on how to meet users' service needs and expectations. It also gives criteria for service assessment as well as indicators of service performance. It is thus a very useful governance tool for boards, councils and regulators. Consumers stand to benefit from suppliers that choose to implement this standard (it is a voluntary standard). Consumers should therefore pose the following pertinent questions whenever discussing electricity service quality in public meetings, stakeholder consultations, and when complaining:
Are you aware of SANS 50007:2018 Guidelines for the assessment and improvement of energy services to users? If not, will you get a copy?
If you know it, have you implemented it? If not, why not?
---------------------------------------------------------- NEW ‘MONEY BOMB’ SCAM TARGETS SOUTH AFRICANS AT ATMS Staff Writer16 November 2018 (BusinessTech) The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has warned against scams and other safety issues leading up to and during the festive season. According to the group, robberies where criminals follow a victim after a withdrawal at an ATM or from the bank, remain rife, as criminals know that at this time of year people receive their Stokvel payouts and bonuses. Bank clients are also still falling victim to fraud at ATMs where criminals interfere with them while they are carrying out a transaction. Sabric urged banking clients not to accept assistance from anyone, even if they purport to be bank staff. “Criminals are masters at social engineering and know just how to exploit human vulnerabilities to perpetuate crimes, particularly over the festive season where they tend to let their guard down.” said Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay. In a scam known as ‘the Money Bomb’, a criminal drops a roll of paper covered in genuine bank notes near the victim after they have transacted at an ATM. The criminal then approaches the victim and suggests going to a remote location to share the “money”. At the remote location, the victim is robbed of the money they withdrew, often violently. Digital platforms have also created social engineering opportunities for criminals to manipulate their victims into divulging their personal or confidential information, Pillay said. “Clients are still compromised because of phishing, vishing or the installation of malware onto a victim’s device by having them click on a link, enabling the criminal to steal sufficient personal information to access their online banking profile. Sabric urges consumers not to click on links or icons in unsolicited emails or SMSes.” Pillay said that Sabric has also seen an increase in the hacking of social media profiles, where a victim’s social media account is hijacked by hacking their account, or by creating a duplicate account using stolen personal information. The criminal then contacts the victim’s friends and, posing as the victim, fabricates a tragic story, requesting money. The victim’s contacts then unknowingly transfer money to the criminal. “We continue to stress that as a bank client, you are your money’s best protection, so take cognisance of our tips and empower yourself,” said Pillay. -------------------------------------------------------------- National Credit Regulator Media Release For Immediate Release November 2018 Don’t let Black Friday be the reason for your financial woes! Out of the 24.59 million credit active consumers, 61.1% are in good standing. However, 38.9% or 9.6 million consumers have impaired records. This is a record on which a consumer and/or any of the accounts are either classified as three or more payments or months in arrears, have an adverse listing, have a judgment or an administration order. “If you did not budget for “Black Friday” this year, do not be tempted because buying on impulse may cause you to have a bad credit record”, says Jimmy Golele, Acting Manager: Education & Communication at the National Credit Regulator (NCR). By preparing a budget, consumers can prevent buyers’ remorse and stress of arriving home with products and items that they do not really need. “Credit needs to be paid back with interest and fees”. “It costs more to pay by credit than to pay cash”, adds Golele. The Consumer Credit Market Report (CCMR) which is a publication issued by the NCR indicates that a large number of consumers have taken out credit facilities which largely include credit / garage cards and store cards. The NCR advises consumers to use credit wisely and only when it is necessary. Golele says that consumers need to take credit that they can afford and pay accordingly as per their credit agreements. Skipping payments will adversely affect consumers’ credit reports which will limit their future chances of accessing further credit when they really need it. Golele reminds consumers that the festive season is around the corner and if they do not spend wisely during this Black Friday, this could set them back financially in the new year and it will be difficult to catch up. “Consumers should prioritise necessities like their bond / rent, transport, groceries, school fees, insurance etc. before splurging on Black Friday”, advises Golele. “It is really not wise to fund Black Friday shopping spree by taking unnecessary debt because debt is costly and should be used for asset building”, says Golele. To help consumers avoid the urge to unnecessarily spend this Black Friday, Golele offers these helpful tips: Set a realistic budget of what you can afford to spend and stick to it; Don’t spend what you don’t have – this means do not live beyond your means and don’t buy if you haven’t budgeted; If an item is on sale and you buy it on credit, remember that interest and fees will push up the price. Therefore, cash is king! Don’t be impulsive when you shop; Have a shopping list to avoid buying unnecessary items - if you don’t need it now, chances are you may never need it. So avoid wasting your time and hard earned money; Don’t forget to get a free copy of your credit report from registered credit bureaus on the NCR’s website: ncr.org.za. “Don’t let Black Friday burn a hole in your pocket and be a reason for your financial woes next year”, concludes Golele. ENDS About The National Credit Regulator The National Credit Regulator (NCR) was established as the regulator under the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (the Act) and is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. The NCR is mandated with the registration of Credit Providers, Credit Bureaus, Debt Counsellors, Payment Distribution Agents, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Agents; and monitoring their conduct in compliance with the National Credit Act as amended. The National Credit Regulator offers education and protection to consumers of credit