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In debt? In trouble? Contact the Credit Ombud

Posted  May 18, 2017

If you’ve tried to resolve the complaint yourself and had no luck, you can contact the Office of the Credit Ombud. 

The Credit Ombud is an independent official that resolves complaints from consumers and businesses that have had a dispute with a credit provider (like a furniture or appliance store, or a loan provider) or have had an unfair negative listing with a credit bureau (known as a blacklisting).

More than R10.7 million was put back into consumers’ pockets in these difficult financial times. 

Nicky Lala Mohan, the current Credit Ombud of South Africa, explains that if you feel that you have been treated unfairly by a credit provider or credit bureau, the Credit Ombud can help you resolve your complaint, if you have followed the proper procedures. These are outlined below.

When the Credit Ombud can help you to deal with a credit provider The Credit Ombud can step in if you have a complaint arising from a credit agreement entered into with a non-bank credit provider (complaints about the banks must be dealt with by the Banking Ombud ), such as a short-term unsecured money lender, a furniture store account, a clothing store account or some vehicle finance or home loans providers that are not a part of a bank.

The kinds of complaints that the ombud can assist you with include:

  • Your statement shows that you owe an incorrect amount.
  • Incorrect interest or fees being charged.
  • You have been lent more money than you can afford to pay back. This is known as “reckless lending”.
  • Your credit provider will not provide you with a statement showing that you are paid up.
  • A dispute about the terms of the agreement, including the repayment term or the fees charged.
  • If the collection of outstanding debt has been mishandled and you are being harassed or overcharged by debt collection agencies.
  • If your credit agreement has been cancelled or the terms have been changed without your agreement.
  • If an emolument attachment order (commonly known as garnishee order) has been placed against you and you feel that this was improperly done or the repayment terms are unfair or unaffordable.

The process for submitting your complaint regarding a credit provider

  1. First try to resolve the complaint with the credit provider.
  2. Remember to make notes of the names and telephone numbers of people you speak to (the ombud will need that information).
  3. Give the credit provider 20 business days to resolve the complaint.
  4. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, or if you did not get an answer from the credit bureau within 20 days, lodge a complaint with the ombud.

When the ombud can help you deal with a credit bureau If you have been negatively affected as a result of incorrect or unfair credit information listed on your credit profile (known as “blacklisting”), you may challenge your credit bureau listing with the credit bureau. If they do not respond, you can contact the Credit Ombud.

The process for submitting your complaint regarding a credit bureau

  1. If your application for credit is refused, or you have a bad credit rating, find out the name of the credit bureau that provided the report.
  2. Contact all four credit bureaus and request your free copy of your credit profile at the following numbers:
      • TransUnion: 0861 886 466
      • Experian: 0861 105 665
      • Compuscan: 0861 514 131
      • XDS: 0860 937 000
  3. Check if the information is factually correct.
  4. If it is not, contact the relevant credit bureau and lodge a dispute with them to correct the information.
  5. The credit bureau must give you a reference number.
  6. The credit bureau must correct the information or resolve the dispute within 20 business days.
  7. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, or if you did not get an answer from the credit bureau within 20 days, lodge a complaint with the ombud.

How to lodge your complaint The Office of the Credit Ombud has tried to make it as easy and uncomplicated as possible for consumers to lodge their complaints:

  • You can log the complaint telephonically on 0861 66 2837.
  • You can complete the complaint form online.
  • You can print the online complaints form, complete it and deliver it by hand to Fernridge Office Park, 5 Hunter Street, Ferndale, Randburg or post it to PO Box 805, Pinegowrie, 2123.
  • You can scan it and email it to ombud@creditombud.org.za.
  • Or you can SMS “44786”, and a call centre agent will call you back. This feature was introduced because the Office of the Credit Ombud realised that many of its consumers do not even have enough money to buy airtime.

The ombud requests that you send any relevant documents that may assist them along with your complaint.

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What happens next? When the Office of the Credit Ombud receives your complaint form, they will:

  • Ask you for more information or documents if necessary
  • Inform the business concerned
  • Investigate the matter
  • Advise all parties of the outcome of their investigations and advise on the way forward.

The Credit Ombud is there to ensure that consumers are treated fairlyThe Credit Ombud fills an important role in ensuring that South African consumers are treated fairly and that the requirements of the National Credit Act have been applied when the credit is granted. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly or overcharged by a credit bureau or provider, the Credit Ombud has made it easy for you to get in touch.

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