Debt Collectors – What Are My Rights?

Debt Collectors – What are my rights?

Debt Collectors – What Are My Rights?

There are laws set in place in South Africa which regulate the process of loan collecting, as well as certain limitations that debt collections may not violate when dealing with consumers who are not paying or abiding to their contracts with creditors. These laws are also there to protect you as the consumer, and knowing your rights can make a difference when dealing with debt collectors.

At Debtco Group, we advise clients to make a point of verifying any claims about their finances that Debt Collectors make. It is well within your rights to request a statement outlining the amount you owe, which also shows how that amount was calculated. If your requests for these statements or documents are denied, you can proceed by laying a complaint with the Council for Debt Collectors. You may refuse to make any payments until you receive the supporting details in writing, to substantiate their claims. It is also your right to refuse to sign any garnishee orders, an emolument attachment, an admission of liability or a consent to judgement.

When you default on your debt, the relevant creditor you owe money to is within their right to render the services of a debt collector or an attorney, in order to try and retrieve money owed to them. Debt Collectors receive commission once they succeed in getting you to repay what you owe, (a fee which is determined by the National Council for Debt Collectors) and so they have a reputation for being forceful and sometimes even unscrupulous. The Council for Debt Collectors must follow a code of conduct that is laid out on their website. A part of this goes as follows: “have due regard for the person, the property and the civil rights of a debtor, and shall ensure that any action taken against a debtor does not humiliate, threaten or cause distress to such a debtor”.

In certain instances, your debt may become “prescribed debt”. If you have prescribed debt (debt that has been extinguished by prescription and is considered “written off”), Debt Collectors may not attempt collection or re-activate the credit agreement for collection. If you are found to be over-indebted and are undergoing Debt Counselling or Debt Review, you cannot be contacted by any of your creditors, their attorneys or the debt collectors that they appoint.

It helps to know that, under the National Debt Collection Act, Debt Collectors may not use force or threat in order to get money out of you. On that note, it is also unlawful for Debt Collectors to intimidate or act unreasonably towards you or those you are close with, and Debt Collectors are not allowed to call your employer regarding your debt. Debt Counsellors may not harass you with multiple calls in a short space of time, and they may not contact you outside of office hours without your permission. On that note, Debt Collectors are not allowed to send you letters or other forms of communication which pose as judicial communications or notices of court/legal action.

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