The benefits of amnesty

2014-06-01 15:00

Details removed from bureaus merely a drop in the ocean, writes Neesa Moodley-Isaacs

Thousands of consumers have already reaped the benefits of the credit amnesty, which came into effect on April 1.

According to Credit Ombud Manie van Schalkwyk, data from just two credit bureaus show a combined total of 40?235 paid-up judgments and more than 14.5?million adverse records have been removed from consumers’ credit profiles.

“Another important and positive spin-off from the project is the fact that because of the publicity this campaign received, thousands of consumers actually took the effort to access their credit reports – many for the first time,” he said.

But Van Schalkwyk hastened to point out there are currently 73.18?million credit accounts listed at the credit bureaus. This means the details removed from the credit bureaus are merely a drop in the ocean.

Credit bureaus have reported a significant increase in the number of calls logged to their call centres by consumers who want to access their credit reports.

There was an average increase of 41% in the number of credit reports issued in April compared with previous months.

“Our office dealt with a 47% increase in calls within the first four weeks after the commencement of the removal exercise, with callers mostly wanting to access their credit reports or wanting to know if they qualify for the amnesty.

“An important lesson from this exercise is that consumers do not understand how credit reports work, especially the fact that there are different sections in a credit report rather than simple ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ information,” Van Schalkwyk added.

“Once consumers obtain a proper understanding of how their credit reports work, I believe that more people will make use of the opportunity to access their annual free credit reports and then stay up to date with what is contained in their reports.”

Unpaid judgments will still remain on your profile for the duration of the five-year retention period, or until you pay them off.

If you default on any account after this removal of adverse information has taken place, such adverse or default information could be listed again on your profile. This information will also remain on your profile for the normal two-year retention period.

But once the new National Credit Amendment Bill is promulgated, the adverse information will be removed as soon as you pay off the debt.

You are entitled to access one free credit report each year and the onus is on you to ensure the information on your credit record is correct and up to date. If the information is not correct, you can contact the Office of the Credit Ombud for free assistance to make sure your credit record is corrected.

»?Contact the ombud’s office on 0861?66?28?37, or visit

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