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Vulnerable consumers risk being scammed

by | Jun 24, 2021 | Personal Finance

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) has strongly condemned scam service providers who claim that your debt can be written off in terms of the National Credit Act (NCA).

Covid 19 and subsequent lockdowns have hit consumers hard, and many who are financially struggling are particularly vulnerable to scams. The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is warning consumers against false information on the National Credit Amendment Act relating to “Debt Intervention”.

“The NCR has discovered several online scams, such as “ask.auntykaryn.co.za” which direct consumers to apply to certain companies to qualify for their debts to be written off under debt intervention. This is incorrect and misleading,” NCR debt intervention manager, Anne-Carien Du Plooy, said.

She explained that although the National Credit Amendment Act was signed into law, it is not yet in operation.  It is currently awaiting an implementation date to be promulgated, which quite simply means that it currently not in effect.

“Consumers should beware of these scams and avoid falling victims to them,” Du Plooy added.

She provided the following insight about “Debt Intervention”:

* Consumers should not fall prey or victim to scams where companies and individuals direct them to pay for services with the promise that their debts will be written off.

* Consumers are encouraged to verify such information with the NCR on 0860 627 627 before any payments are made or agreements entered into.

* Consumers who are battling with repayments on their debts can contact a registered debt counsellor directly for assistance.

* There is no basis for consumers to utilise agents to get to a debt counsellor and pay agent fees.

*All registered debt counsellors can be found on the NCR’s website at www.ncr.org.za or consumers can contact the NCR on 0860 627 627 for assistance in this regard.

*Consumers are further cautioned to never give their personal details such as their ID numbers to strangers telephonically or online.

National Debt Advisors

Sebastien Alexanderson, CEO of National Debt Advisors, South Africa’s number one debt counselling company goes further to explain the value of a good, registered debt counsellor: “ When people are over-indebted and struggling to make ends meet, they are also emotionally vulnerable – further opening them up to abuse by fraudsters. Yet, it is at this particular point in the consumer’s life, when they can least afford to lose money to scams. It is therefore vitally important that consumers equip themselves with as much information about a debt counsellor before signing any documentation with them.

Things to look out for:

  • Make sure that you are dealing with an NCR registered debt counsellor. Ask them for their NCRDC number. Go to the NCR’s website at ncr.org.za and see if you can find them.
  • Check out their online presence. Go onto their website. Have a look at their social media page. See when when last they have posted, how often they post and establish if they are putting out current, credible information.
  • Make sure the physical address of the debt counsellor  exists
  • Find out the how big or small the company is. Smaller companies are known to give more personalized service, whereas bigger companies have more personnel and resources to fill the gap, should the person you are dealing with fall ill, needs to be off from work etc
  • No monies are ever paid directly into your debt counsellor’s account. Monies will be paid into the account of the Payment Distribution Agency (PDA)
  • The PDA will then (as per your restructured payment plan) disburse the funds amongst your creditors
  • PDA’s also need to be registered with the NCR. Make sure you know which Payment Distribution Agency (PDA) your debt counsellor uses.
  • A reputable debt counsellor will never give you their own  bank details to pay money into. If this happens, steer clear.

As with all industries, you find good practitioners and bad practitioners. Debt counselling is no different. Make the concerted effort to find a credible, competent debt counsellor. Do your homework, and trust your gut instinct. Your financial future could depend on it”

National Debt Advisors has a proven track record in helping over-indebted consumers become debt free, and enter the credit arena with a fresh, clean credit record.

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