Debt Collection Laws: Know your rights

More than 10 million South Africans are drowning in debt. About 70% of consumer’s salaries all go to paying the creditors’ at the end of the month. It would be safe to say that majority of South Africans are using debt to fund their lifestyles. Whether you are too embarrassed to face the debt collector or even speak to them, it is inevitable because you will eventually need to settle your debt. Too often consumers do not know there rights and are mishandled by the debt collector. You no longer need to worry because here we will discuss your rights in the Debt Collection Laws.

The National Debt Collection Act 144 of 1998 regulates the process of collecting debt in South Africa. It is important to know that only a registered debt collector from the Council of Debt Collectors may collect debt, an attorney and their agent is included. The National Debt Collection Council regulates the stand fee for the debt collector’s service.

A debt collector’s job:

A debt collector is usually hired by a creditor. Their job is to collect the money that consumers owe and will be remunerated according to an agreed amount. They usually do not care about what your circumstances are or why haven’t you paid, their aim is to get the money back.

  • You have the right to ask for a statement which indicates the amount owed by you, and how the debt collector calculated it.
  • You have the right to refuse payment until you have received all the supporting documents.
  • Never sign and indemnity form because that will mean that the debt collector will have more control over you.
  • You have a legal right to complain about any harassment from the debt collector.

Section 15 of the Act expresses that all debt collectors are required to follow the code of conduct.

 Debt Collectors cannot:

  • Assault or intimidate you
  • Block access to any of your personal premises
  • Try to tire you out by phoning you more times than agreed on
  • Give you false and misleading conduct
  • Embarrass you in front of other people.
  • Involve your family members or the neighbours by sending invoicing to them

If you feel that the debt collector has completely crossed the line then you could fill a complaint against the debt collector with the Debt Council. Make sure that your complaint is written like an affidavit with:

  • the date
  • the time
  • the incident that occurred
  • the name of the debt collector
  • the name of a witness to the incident

Within two weeks the Debt Council will decide whether your complaint is valid. If complaint is deemed valid, the debt collector will receive a disciplinary hearing. 

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