Debt expert Neil Roets answers question about prescribed debt posted on Fin24. Read the question and answer below.
“Who do I contact to remove prescribed debt? The credit bureaus, a lawyer or the creditor themselves?
Thank you for affording me the opportunity to assist with your question.
You’re faced with quite a conundrum, which is understandable.
It is not advisable to let the debt lie dormant for such a long period and then attempt to claim prescription. As the credit providers are now clearly aware of the fact that they need to take timeous action to prevent prescription, they are very likely to take the relevant actions.
Many consumers move to a different property after the debt was obtained and do not inform the credit providers of the change of address. If the credit provider decides to take the necessary legal steps, these will be sent/served on the address on their records. Even if you don’t receive the documentation, it can still be regarded as legally served on you. If you proceed under the assumption that they did not take the necessary legal steps, you might face a situation where legal action is taken without your knowledge, putting you in a worse position.
The best option would always be to rather make arrangements to pay off the debt, as prescription is not necessarily an easy way out of debt.
Should you, however, feel that certain debt should be prescribed, the first step would be to pull a credit report. You are allowed to pull one free credit report per year. You can obtain this from MyTransUnion or Experian. This will give you an indication of the current debt situation.
If you feel that there is debt that should have been prescribed, you can request the credit provider to provide the relevant proof that they took the necessary steps to prevent prescription. If proof cannot be provided, the debt should be written off. It is important to indicate to them that your enquiry is in no way or form an acknowledgment of the debt, and that the debt, in your opinion, should no longer exist.
You can also log a dispute with the credit bureaus indicating that the debt is, in your opinion, prescribed and the record should be removed. They generally send this to the credit provider and if no alternative information is received, they will remove the record after 20 business days.
I hope this sheds some light on this matter.