Human Rights Day is a day of honouring the sacrifices of the past so that we may live the lives we have today. It is a day where we have a chance to really scrutinise our rights according to the South African Laws. As a consumer, you may hear many different opinions and myths about your rights and the various regulations surrounding defaulted payments, but how many of them are really true?
Let us cover some of these myths and truths now:
Myth or Truth #1: If I Wait for Three Years My Debt Will Simply Disappear
Your debt does not simply vanish after three years. The debtors simply stop hounding , for what is known as prescribed debt, after a period of three years. It also means that you cannot change your phone number and simply go about life. As a consumer, when you sign the legal binding agreements with the credit providers, you state that you will inform them when your details change. If you change your address, home telephone number or email address and do not inform them, this can count against you.
Prescribed debt may be taken off the to-do list, but it is not gone altogether. Within the three-year period, you should also be aware that you cannot have any contact with the creditor or debt collector whatsoever. You cannot acknowledge this debt at all, because the second that you do, the three-year period will begin again. It is said that creditors and debt collectors use the sneakiest of tricks to force you to acknowledge the debt, the second you play into this, you are back on the to-do list.
So, we call this one a Myth.
Myth or Truth #2: Debt made on Behalf of Someone Else, is Not Mine
When you sign a legally binding written contract in South Africa it is between the two parties who entered into the agreement, regardless of the reason that you signed for someone else. Many people are scammed into such situations and all of them sit with a mountain of debt at the end of the day which they cannot get out of. If we think of the most recent story circulating social media and Netflix, it would be the story of the Tindler Swindler. While this story has been sensationalised to no end, there are people every day who are subjected to such life destroying incidences.
It seems we have another Myth.
Myth or Truth #3: You Need to be in Arrears to Apply for Debt Review
Debt Review can be and should be entered into at any time that you begin realising that you feel over-indebted. This means that your income streams are less than the debt repayments. Even if you have three months ahead of you until you are going to be in a crisis position, it is better to call a debt counsellor now to understand the process and get everything in order. It is better to enter debt rescue earlier, rather than later because accounts accrue extra charges for each month that they are in arrears. The law also does not stipulate what these charges need to be, only that they cannot exceed the total amount outstanding. For some people this is a massive extra charge which could have been averted through using the services of Debt Rescue.
It seems we have another myth!
Myth or Truth #4: Debtors Cannot be Harassed by Debt Collectors or Creditors After Hours?
Finally, the truth! Debt collectors are bound by the law not to contact you on Sundays or before 6am and after 9pm in the evening. Debt collectors are also not allowed to contact extended family, friends, colleagues or anyone but you about your debt. Information is heavily protected now since POPIA was put into place, and this has made the lives of debt collectors and creditors much more difficult. Make sure to know what they can and cannot do. They cannot extort money from you either, swear at you, threaten you or make empty threats. You really do have more rights than you understand and one of those rights is to be treated with respect at all times.
Myth or Truth #5: There is a Process to Safeguard over-indebted South Africans
This is the truth. Debt Review was instated through a necessary Government decision after the country witnessed the struggles that South Africans faced with unlawful behaviour from creditors and debt collectors. The National Credit Regulators (NCR) are the official council who regulates the debt review process. The NCR drafted and motioned to pass the National Credit Act, which protects South Africans.
Debt Rescue was founded for this very reason, to be one of the first in line to help South Africans live their lives without the harassment, stress and constant worry. As one of the longest standing debt review companies, Debt Rescue has stood the test of time, and seen thousands of South Africans build a stronger, happier and more fulfilling life.
There are so many avenues that we can choose as South Africans. It empowers us to understand the law and understand our rights. It also empowers us to make use of the safety nets which have been put in place for us to use.
If you have a success story that you would like to share, let us know on social media.
If you believe that you may need someone to talk to, contact one of our debt counsellors and make the right decision.