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.

National Credit Regulator

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. It is 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 bureaux and debt counsellors.

Ombudsman for Banking Services

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 the bank concerned – 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 orginally 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 microlender, 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 bureaux. The National Credit Act entitles you to one free credit report a year. Additional reports will set you back a small fee, around R20.

Credit Information Ombud

If the major credit bureaux (see above) are 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.

Association of Debt Recovery Agents

A self-regulatory body that will investigate complaints against its members.