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NCR: Be informed and stay afloat!

10 March 2010 Michelle Schreuder-Rankin

The National Credit Regulator (NCR), as part of promoting public awareness and as part of celebrating World Consumer Rights Month, embarked on a series of activities including road shows, radio programmes, exhibitions and workshops in conjunction with other stakeholders.

March 15 is celebrated internationally as World Consumer Rights Day. In South Africa, March is dubbed the consumer rights month. The Consumer Protection Forum which comprises of the National Credit Regulator (NCR), nine Provincial Consumer Affairs Directorates, the Council for Medical Aid Schemes (CMS), Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to mention a few are jointly embarking on programmes aimed at educating South African consumers. The international theme which has been adopted is “Our money, our rights”.

The NCR states that the international theme presents a valuable opportunity for various stakeholders to join forces and educate consumers on money related matters.

“Consumers who are empowered with information on how to handle their finances can easily deal with financial difficulties,” says Peter Setou, Senior Manager: Education & Strategy at the NCR.

As at September 2009, nearly 45% of South Africa’s 18 million credit-active consumers had impaired records. An impaired record is a record on which any of the accounts are either classified as three or more payments in arrears, or which has an “adverse listing”, or that reflects a judgment or administration order. We have also seen debt counselling applications rising to more than 150 000. The tough economic conditions over the past year have severely affected many South Africans. While some were retrenched and lost their steady income, others found that they were forced to take pay cuts as companies cut costs to stay afloat.

“Many people are faced with enormous financial pressures and most do not know how to handle their financial obligations under these circumstances. Our education campaigns are geared at encouraging consumers to be more proactive and contact their credit providers should they foresee that they will not be able to fulfil their repayments,” says Setou. “Conversely, we have appealed to credit providers to assist consumers to re-arrange their repayment to affordable levels”.

For consumers who can no longer afford their repayments, the first step is NOT to panic, but to contact all their credit providers and make arrangements based on their current income and affordability. Letters of demand or final notice should never be ignored; they should be attended to immediately.

Retrenched consumers must also inform all their credit providers and establish if they have credit life insurance included in their credit agreements. This is cover payable in the event of a consumer’s death, disability, terminal illness, unemployment, or other insurable risks that may prevent the consumer to meet his/her obligations under a credit agreement.

Consumers are also encouraged to be cautious with their retrenchment packages. Where the package is sufficient, consumers should list priority debts, determine how the package can be used in part to settle some debts or reduce them. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek assistance from registered and licensed financial advisors or debt counsellors. Consumers should prioritise their housing loans, meaning they should never skip mortgage payments as they can lose their houses, advised Setou.

Credit providers must give consumers prior notice before they can approach a court for judgment to enforce debt repayments, they must also advise consumers of the available options such as:-

  • Seeking help from a debt counsellor;
  • Seeking help from an alternative dispute resolution mechanism; or
  • Bringing your payments up-to-date.

During this consumer month, we encourage consumers to:

1. Always act on a letter of demand – contact your credit providers and explain your situation, they would rather receive some payment than none at all.

2. Seek help from a debt counsellor – if your credit providers are not willing to assist, approach a registered debt counsellor who will assist you to manage and restructure your debts.

3. Never skip your payments – even when you are under debt counselling, continue making payments, because if you do not pay, you could lose your house or your car.

4. Prioritise your home loan – never skip your mortgage payment even if you are under debt counselling, pay as much as you can.

5. Start saving today – saving some money every month will assist you in future.

6. Be alert all the time and exercise your rights.

Consumers shouldn’t try to hide away when experiencing financial difficulties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you manage your debt and live within your means, concludes Setou.

“Many people are faced with enormous financial pressures and most do not know how to handle their financial obligations under these circumstances. Our education campaigns are geared at encouraging consumers to be more proactive and contact their credit providers should they foresee that they will not be able to fulfil their repayments,” says Setou. “Conversely, we have appealed to credit providers to assist consumers to re-arrange their repayment to affordable levels”.

For consumers who can no longer afford their repayments, the first step is NOT to panic, but to contact all their credit providers and make arrangements based on their current income and affordability. Letters of demand or final notice should never be ignored; they should be attended to immediately.

Retrenched consumers must also inform all their credit providers and establish if they have credit life insurance included in their credit agreements. This is cover payable in the event of a consumer’s death, disability, terminal illness, unemployment, or other insurable risks that may prevent the consumer to meet his/her obligations under a credit agreement.

Consumers are also encouraged to be cautious with their retrenchment packages. Where the package is sufficient, consumers should list priority debts, determine how the package can be used in part to settle some debts or reduce them. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek assistance from registered and licensed financial advisors or debt counsellors. Consumers should prioritise their housing loans, meaning they should never skip mortgage payments as they can lose their houses, advised Setou.

Credit providers must give consumers prior notice before they can approach a court for judgment to enforce debt repayments, they must also advise consumers of the available options such as:-

  • Seeking help from a debt counsellor;
  • Seeking help from an alternative dispute resolution mechanism; or
  • Bringing your payments up-to-date.

During this consumer month, we encourage consumers to:

1. Always act on a letter of demand – contact your credit providers and explain your situation, they would rather receive some payment than none at all.

2. Seek help from a debt counsellor – if your credit providers are not willing to assist, approach a registered debt counsellor who will assist you to manage and restructure your debts.

3. Never skip your payments – even when you are under debt counselling, continue making payments, because if you do not pay, you could lose your house or your car.

4. Prioritise your home loan – never skip your mortgage payment even if you are under debt counselling, pay as much as you can.

5. Start saving today – saving some money every month will assist you in future.

6. Be alert all the time and exercise your rights.

Consumers shouldn’t try to hide away when experiencing financial difficulties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you manage your debt and live within your means, concludes Setou.

As at September 2009, nearly 45% of South Africa’s 18 million credit-active consumers had impaired records. An impaired record is a record on which any of the accounts are either classified as three or more payments in arrears, or which has an “adverse listing”, or that reflects a judgment or administration order. We have also seen debt counselling applications rising to more than 150 000. The tough economic conditions over the past year have severely affected many South Africans. While some were retrenched and lost their steady income, others found that they were forced to take pay cuts as companies cut costs to stay afloat.

“Many people are faced with enormous financial pressures and most do not know how to handle their financial obligations under these circumstances. Our education campaigns are geared at encouraging consumers to be more proactive and contact their credit providers should they foresee that they will not be able to fulfil their repayments,” says Setou. “Conversely, we have appealed to credit providers to assist consumers to re-arrange their repayment to affordable levels”.

For consumers who can no longer afford their repayments, the first step is NOT to panic, but to contact all their credit providers and make arrangements based on their current income and affordability. Letters of demand or final notice should never be ignored; they should be attended to immediately.

Retrenched consumers must also inform all their credit providers and establish if they have credit life insurance included in their credit agreements. This is cover payable in the event of a consumer’s death, disability, terminal illness, unemployment, or other insurable risks that may prevent the consumer to meet his/her obligations under a credit agreement.

Consumers are also encouraged to be cautious with their retrenchment packages. Where the package is sufficient, consumers should list priority debts, determine how the package can be used in part to settle some debts or reduce them. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek assistance from registered and licensed financial advisors or debt counsellors. Consumers should prioritise their housing loans, meaning they should never skip mortgage payments as they can lose their houses, advised Setou.

Credit providers must give consumers prior notice before they can approach a court for judgment to enforce debt repayments, they must also advise consumers of the available options such as:-

  • Seeking help from a debt counsellor;
  • Seeking help from an alternative dispute resolution mechanism; or
  • Bringing your payments up-to-date.

During this consumer month, we encourage consumers to:

1. Always act on a letter of demand – contact your credit providers and explain your situation, they would rather receive some payment than none at all.

2. Seek help from a debt counsellor – if your credit providers are not willing to assist, approach a registered debt counsellor who will assist you to manage and restructure your debts.

3. Never skip your payments – even when you are under debt counselling, continue making payments, because if you do not pay, you could lose your house or your car.

4. Prioritise your home loan – never skip your mortgage payment even if you are under debt counselling, pay as much as you can.

5. Start saving today – saving some money every month will assist you in future.

6. Be alert all the time and exercise your rights.

Consumers shouldn’t try to hide away when experiencing financial difficulties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you manage your debt and live within your means, concludes Setou.

“Many people are faced with enormous financial pressures and most do not know how to handle their financial obligations under these circumstances. Our education campaigns are geared at encouraging consumers to be more proactive and contact their credit providers should they foresee that they will not be able to fulfil their repayments,” says Setou. “Conversely, we have appealed to credit providers to assist consumers to re-arrange their repayment to affordable levels”.

For consumers who can no longer afford their repayments, the first step is NOT to panic, but to contact all their credit providers and make arrangements based on their current income and affordability. Letters of demand or final notice should never be ignored; they should be attended to immediately.

Retrenched consumers must also inform all their credit providers and establish if they have credit life insurance included in their credit agreements. This is cover payable in the event of a consumer’s death, disability, terminal illness, unemployment, or other insurable risks that may prevent the consumer to meet his/her obligations under a credit agreement.

Consumers are also encouraged to be cautious with their retrenchment packages. Where the package is sufficient, consumers should list priority debts, determine how the package can be used in part to settle some debts or reduce them. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek assistance from registered and licensed financial advisors or debt counsellors. Consumers should prioritise their housing loans, meaning they should never skip mortgage payments as they can lose their houses, advised Setou.

Credit providers must give consumers prior notice before they can approach a court for judgment to enforce debt repayments, they must also advise consumers of the available options such as:-

  • Seeking help from a debt counsellor;
  • Seeking help from an alternative dispute resolution mechanism; or
  • Bringing your payments up-to-date.

During this consumer month, we encourage consumers to:

1. Always act on a letter of demand – contact your credit providers and explain your situation, they would rather receive some payment than none at all.

2. Seek help from a debt counsellor – if your credit providers are not willing to assist, approach a registered debt counsellor who will assist you to manage and restructure your debts.

3. Never skip your payments – even when you are under debt counselling, continue making payments, because if you do not pay, you could lose your house or your car.

4. Prioritise your home loan – never skip your mortgage payment even if you are under debt counselling, pay as much as you can.

5. Start saving today – saving some money every month will assist you in future.

6. Be alert all the time and exercise your rights.

Consumers shouldn’t try to hide away when experiencing financial difficulties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you manage your debt and live within your means, concludes Setou.

The NCR states that the international theme presents a valuable opportunity for various stakeholders to join forces and educate consumers on money related matters.

“Consumers who are empowered with information on how to handle their finances can easily deal with financial difficulties,” says Peter Setou, Senior Manager: Education & Strategy at the NCR.

As at September 2009, nearly 45% of South Africa’s 18 million credit-active consumers had impaired records. An impaired record is a record on which any of the accounts are either classified as three or more payments in arrears, or which has an “adverse listing”, or that reflects a judgment or administration order. We have also seen debt counselling applications rising to more than 150 000. The tough economic conditions over the past year have severely affected many South Africans. While some were retrenched and lost their steady income, others found that they were forced to take pay cuts as companies cut costs to stay afloat.

“Many people are faced with enormous financial pressures and most do not know how to handle their financial obligations under these circumstances. Our education campaigns are geared at encouraging consumers to be more proactive and contact their credit providers should they foresee that they will not be able to fulfil their repayments,” says Setou. “Conversely, we have appealed to credit providers to assist consumers to re-arrange their repayment to affordable levels”.

For consumers who can no longer afford their repayments, the first step is NOT to panic, but to contact all their credit providers and make arrangements based on their current income and affordability. Letters of demand or final notice should never be ignored; they should be attended to immediately.

Retrenched consumers must also inform all their credit providers and establish if they have credit life insurance included in their credit agreements. This is cover payable in the event of a consumer’s death, disability, terminal illness, unemployment, or other insurable risks that may prevent the consumer to meet his/her obligations under a credit agreement.

Consumers are also encouraged to be cautious with their retrenchment packages. Where the package is sufficient, consumers should list priority debts, determine how the package can be used in part to settle some debts or reduce them. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek assistance from registered and licensed financial advisors or debt counsellors. Consumers should prioritise their housing loans, meaning they should never skip mortgage payments as they can lose their houses, advised Setou.

Credit providers must give consumers prior notice before they can approach a court for judgment to enforce debt repayments, they must also advise consumers of the available options such as:-

  • Seeking help from a debt counsellor;
  • Seeking help from an alternative dispute resolution mechanism; or
  • Bringing your payments up-to-date.

During this consumer month, we encourage consumers to:

1. Always act on a letter of demand – contact your credit providers and explain your situation, they would rather receive some payment than none at all.

2. Seek help from a debt counsellor – if your credit providers are not willing to assist, approach a registered debt counsellor who will assist you to manage and restructure your debts.

3. Never skip your payments – even when you are under debt counselling, continue making payments, because if you do not pay, you could lose your house or your car.

4. Prioritise your home loan – never skip your mortgage payment even if you are under debt counselling, pay as much as you can.

5. Start saving today – saving some money every month will assist you in future.

6. Be alert all the time and exercise your rights.

Consumers shouldn’t try to hide away when experiencing financial difficulties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you manage your debt and live within your means, concludes Setou.

“Many people are faced with enormous financial pressures and most do not know how to handle their financial obligations under these circumstances. Our education campaigns are geared at encouraging consumers to be more proactive and contact their credit providers should they foresee that they will not be able to fulfil their repayments,” says Setou. “Conversely, we have appealed to credit providers to assist consumers to re-arrange their repayment to affordable levels”.

For consumers who can no longer afford their repayments, the first step is NOT to panic, but to contact all their credit providers and make arrangements based on their current income and affordability. Letters of demand or final notice should never be ignored; they should be attended to immediately.

Retrenched consumers must also inform all their credit providers and establish if they have credit life insurance included in their credit agreements. This is cover payable in the event of a consumer’s death, disability, terminal illness, unemployment, or other insurable risks that may prevent the consumer to meet his/her obligations under a credit agreement.

Consumers are also encouraged to be cautious with their retrenchment packages. Where the package is sufficient, consumers should list priority debts, determine how the package can be used in part to settle some debts or reduce them. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek assistance from registered and licensed financial advisors or debt counsellors. Consumers should prioritise their housing loans, meaning they should never skip mortgage payments as they can lose their houses, advised Setou.

Credit providers must give consumers prior notice before they can approach a court for judgment to enforce debt repayments, they must also advise consumers of the available options such as:-

  • Seeking help from a debt counsellor;
  • Seeking help from an alternative dispute resolution mechanism; or
  • Bringing your payments up-to-date.

During this consumer month, we encourage consumers to:

1. Always act on a letter of demand – contact your credit providers and explain your situation, they would rather receive some payment than none at all.

2. Seek help from a debt counsellor – if your credit providers are not willing to assist, approach a registered debt counsellor who will assist you to manage and restructure your debts.

3. Never skip your payments – even when you are under debt counselling, continue making payments, because if you do not pay, you could lose your house or your car.

4. Prioritise your home loan – never skip your mortgage payment even if you are under debt counselling, pay as much as you can.

5. Start saving today – saving some money every month will assist you in future.

6. Be alert all the time and exercise your rights.

Consumers shouldn’t try to hide away when experiencing financial difficulties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you manage your debt and live within your means, concludes Setou.

As at September 2009, nearly 45% of South Africa’s 18 million credit-active consumers had impaired records. An impaired record is a record on which any of the accounts are either classified as three or more payments in arrears, or which has an “adverse listing”, or that reflects a judgment or administration order. We have also seen debt counselling applications rising to more than 150 000. The tough economic conditions over the past year have severely affected many South Africans. While some were retrenched and lost their steady income, others found that they were forced to take pay cuts as companies cut costs to stay afloat.

“Many people are faced with enormous financial pressures and most do not know how to handle their financial obligations under these circumstances. Our education campaigns are geared at encouraging consumers to be more proactive and contact their credit providers should they foresee that they will not be able to fulfil their repayments,” says Setou. “Conversely, we have appealed to credit providers to assist consumers to re-arrange their repayment to affordable levels”.

For consumers who can no longer afford their repayments, the first step is NOT to panic, but to contact all their credit providers and make arrangements based on their current income and affordability. Letters of demand or final notice should never be ignored; they should be attended to immediately.

Retrenched consumers must also inform all their credit providers and establish if they have credit life insurance included in their credit agreements. This is cover payable in the event of a consumer’s death, disability, terminal illness, unemployment, or other insurable risks that may prevent the consumer to meet his/her obligations under a credit agreement.

Consumers are also encouraged to be cautious with their retrenchment packages. Where the package is sufficient, consumers should list priority debts, determine how the package can be used in part to settle some debts or reduce them. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek assistance from registered and licensed financial advisors or debt counsellors. Consumers should prioritise their housing loans, meaning they should never skip mortgage payments as they can lose their houses, advised Setou.

Credit providers must give consumers prior notice before they can approach a court for judgment to enforce debt repayments, they must also advise consumers of the available options such as:-

  • Seeking help from a debt counsellor;
  • Seeking help from an alternative dispute resolution mechanism; or
  • Bringing your payments up-to-date.

During this consumer month, we encourage consumers to:

1. Always act on a letter of demand – contact your credit providers and explain your situation, they would rather receive some payment than none at all.

2. Seek help from a debt counsellor – if your credit providers are not willing to assist, approach a registered debt counsellor who will assist you to manage and restructure your debts.

3. Never skip your payments – even when you are under debt counselling, continue making payments, because if you do not pay, you could lose your house or your car.

4. Prioritise your home loan – never skip your mortgage payment even if you are under debt counselling, pay as much as you can.

5. Start saving today – saving some money every month will assist you in future.

6. Be alert all the time and exercise your rights.

Consumers shouldn’t try to hide away when experiencing financial difficulties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you manage your debt and live within your means, concludes Setou.

“Many people are faced with enormous financial pressures and most do not know how to handle their financial obligations under these circumstances. Our education campaigns are geared at encouraging consumers to be more proactive and contact their credit providers should they foresee that they will not be able to fulfil their repayments,” says Setou. “Conversely, we have appealed to credit providers to assist consumers to re-arrange their repayment to affordable levels”.

For consumers who can no longer afford their repayments, the first step is NOT to panic, but to contact all their credit providers and make arrangements based on their current income and affordability. Letters of demand or final notice should never be ignored; they should be attended to immediately.

Retrenched consumers must also inform all their credit providers and establish if they have credit life insurance included in their credit agreements. This is cover payable in the event of a consumer’s death, disability, terminal illness, unemployment, or other insurable risks that may prevent the consumer to meet his/her obligations under a credit agreement.

Consumers are also encouraged to be cautious with their retrenchment packages. Where the package is sufficient, consumers should list priority debts, determine how the package can be used in part to settle some debts or reduce them. Additionally, consumers are advised to seek assistance from registered and licensed financial advisors or debt counsellors. Consumers should prioritise their housing loans, meaning they should never skip mortgage payments as they can lose their houses, advised Setou.

Credit providers must give consumers prior notice before they can approach a court for judgment to enforce debt repayments, they must also advise consumers of the available options such as:-

  • Seeking help from a debt counsellor;
  • Seeking help from an alternative dispute resolution mechanism; or
  • Bringing your payments up-to-date.

During this consumer month, we encourage consumers to:

1. Always act on a letter of demand – contact your credit providers and explain your situation, they would rather receive some payment than none at all.

2. Seek help from a debt counsellor – if your credit providers are not willing to assist, approach a registered debt counsellor who will assist you to manage and restructure your debts.

3. Never skip your payments – even when you are under debt counselling, continue making payments, because if you do not pay, you could lose your house or your car.

4. Prioritise your home loan – never skip your mortgage payment even if you are under debt counselling, pay as much as you can.

5. Start saving today – saving some money every month will assist you in future.

6. Be alert all the time and exercise your rights.

Consumers shouldn’t try to hide away when experiencing financial difficulties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you manage your debt and live within your means, concludes Setou.

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