As a consumer or small business owner, you should regularly check your credit record at the credit bureau, especially if you are ever refused credit or you are told you have a bad record. There is a small charge for this service.
The contact numbers of the credit bureaus are:
- Compuscan (also for microlending issues) – 0861 514 131;
- Experian Website (consumers) – 0861 10 5665;
- Kredit Inform (businesses) – 011 777 2700;
- Transunion ITC (consumers and businesses) – 0861 482 482; and
- Micro Lenders Credit Bureau – 0861 28 7328.If you do not agree with any of the information on your report, you can ask the credit bureau to give you all the facts. The steps you must take include:
- Ask the credit bureau for a reference number and the name of the person to whom you spoke. Make a note of the date and time of your call.
- Allow a maximum of 30 days for the credit bureau to resolve the query.
- If your query is still unresolved after 30 days, or if you are not satisfied with the way the credit bureau has resolved your complaint, contact the call centre of the Credit Information Ombud at 0861 66 28 37 or go to creditombud.org.za and submit a complaint form (quoting the reference number you were given by the credit bureau).
- If your query is within the jurisdiction of the ombud, an investigation will be launched, free of charge. You may be contacted to provide additional information. Your complaint will be forwarded to the organisations that listed you for their response.Once the ombud’s office has all the facts of the case, it will negotiate a settlement or make a ruling.If you are satisfied with the ombud’s decision, the case will be closed. If you are not satisfied, you can act through the courts.
You should not be fooled by advertisements on street poles which claim that credit repair agents can “clean” or “repair” your credit record. It is, in fact, illegal for credit repair agents to promise to remove valid listings for an upfront fee.
They will charge you high fees, and there is very little they can actually do for you. Credit bureaus are not allowed to remove a judgment before the five-year retention period, unless it has been rescinded (removed) by a court of law.
If you have a judgment against you, and you have paid in full and want it to be rescinded, you need to employ an attorney at your own cost.
Default listings remain on file for three years, and if you really owed the money, there is nothing you can do to have them removed, even if you have now repaid the debt in full.
Your only real hope then lies with the office of the Credit Information Ombud. But he can only order the early removal of default listings if you meet all of the following three criteria:
- You defaulted due to circumstances beyond your control
- You showed an intention to honour your debts and communicated proactively
- You have been rehabilitated (paid the debt in full)