Did you know that you have rights as a consumer, especially when it comes to applying for credit?
Today marks the day to promote your basic rights as a consumer, to demand that those rights are respected and to protest the market abuses and social injustices that undermine them. World Consumer Rights Day was established in 1983 to promote the basic rights of consumers everywhere. On 15 March every year, the global consumer movement unites around a common theme to perform an exciting array of campaigning activities.
The Credit Ombud is tasked with dispute resolution and enforcing fairness in the credit industry. Mr Nicky Lala-Mohan, the Credit Ombud explains that The Ombud helps consumers learn about and exercise their credit rights and provides free assistance with all credit bureau and credit agreement related matters.
Lala-Mohan explains that many consumers are not aware of their credit rights, which is an important element of their human rights. In terms of the National Credit Act 2005 (NCA), consumers have the right to receive a statement of account. The credit provider is obliged to deliver a statement of account to the consumer, in the manner chosen, either by fax, email, post or printable web page. Furthermore, the consumer has the right to dispute any transaction with the credit provider, in particular a debit or credit, appearing on the statement of account.
The NCA also introduced a number of important consumer rights. These include:
- Right to apply for credit – You have the right to apply to a credit provider for credit. Being granted the credit is, however, not an automatic right.
- Protection against discrimination in respect of credit – A credit provider must not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against you when applying for credit.
- Right to reasons for credit being refused – Upon requesting for reasons, a credit provider must advise in writing why it’s refusing to do the following:
- Enter into a credit agreement.
- Offer a lower credit limit.
- Refuse to increase a credit limit or refuse to renew an expiring credit card or credit facility.
- Right to information in an official language – You have the right to receive any document that is required in terms of the NCA in your mother tongue (from the 11 official languages).
- Right to receive documents – Every document that is required to be delivered to a consumer in terms of the NCA must be delivered in person at the business premises of the credit provider or by ordinary mail, prepaid registered post, fax, email or printable web page.
- Right to access and challenge credit records and information – When you request a credit report, it must disclose the same information that will be displayed to other parties. In the event of a dispute, the steps as set out in the NCA must be followed within 20 business days after the filing of the challenge to provide a copy of credible evidence to the consumer or remove the information and all records of it from its files.