Women are better at managing their credit than men and seek help from debt counsellors sooner than their male counterparts.
These were the findings of an internal survey done by one of the largest debt counselling firms in South Africa.
Neil Roets, CEO of Debt Rescue, said their findings were in line with those of a survey conducted by the Credit Bureau Association (CBA) recently which found that women were significantly better at handling their debt.
“Our survey has found that women seek help through the debt review process much earlier than men do. They don’t wait until the wolf is at the door and creditors are threatening to repossess their homes and moveable goods. Many men wait until it is too late to do much about their situation.”
CBA executive manager Natasha Horwitz said in a statement their research found that women in general handled their finances more responsibly.
She said it was important that all consumers become passionate about building a positive credit history as this would benefit them in later life when they need access to credit for other investments.
Roets said it was important for consumers to keep a tight grip on their expenditure and to ensure that they were budgeting for the repayment of debt that they incurred.
“We find that frequently people who sought help from us borrowed money from micro lenders or loan sharks or bought goods on credit in the hope that their financial situation would improve without there being any real basis for that hope.”
The CBA survey found that women owned fewer credit accounts at 48,2% than men who own 51,7%. They also owned the least number of credit cards at 44,2% and cell phone accounts at 44,1%.
Men were responsible for 65,6% of the asset finance accounts and the majority of cell phone accounts at 55,8%.
Roets said total consumer debt was now topping R1, 44-trillion (according to Statistics South Africa).
“We are already seeing a dramatic growth in the number of people who are seeking protection from their creditors by going under debt review. There has also been a significant growth in the number of consumers who are having their salaries docked by garnishee orders and who are being blacklisted because of judgements against them.
“We are experiencing double digit growth in our own client list and we know from colleagues in the debt counselling industry that they too are seeing rapid growth in the number of distressed consumers seeking help,” Roets said.
He said the number of consumers seeking help from his company had more than doubled over the past six months.
“Roets, who is also a lawyer and an accredited solicitor in the United Kingdom, said the situation has become dire and was confirmed as such in a statement from the National Credit Regulator.
“It’s a well-known fact that almost half of all credit-active consumers in South Africa have impaired credit records. In other words, about nine million consumers are in arrears (by three or more months) on at least one account, or have a debt judgment or administration order to their names,” Roets said.