A Fin24 reader earlier this year requested to be removed from debt review hoping to receive a clearance certificate. Upon his request his debt counsellor informed him that he has to pay an amount of R7 000. Seeking the advice of an expert, he writes:
I have been under debt review for about two years. I paid off all my debt last year October, however I am now left with my biggest asset and that is my car.
In January this year I contacted my debt counsellor with the intention to be removed from debt review as I have been told that once your debt is fully paid off and your house/bond or car loan as your biggest asset is still outstanding, you can receive a clearance letter. With this being said, I contacted my DC and was requested to pay an amount of +-R7 000 to be removed, or at least to file for removal from court.
After paying the amount, they came back to me saying the court only allows you to be removed if all your debt is paid, this only leaving your house bond as your biggest loan. Meaning I cannot be removed from debt review as my car is listed under debt review.
I would like to confirm if this is correct, as I have been reading articles and speaking to a couple of people regarding this same issue and it all comes back to, once you have settled your debt, the biggest loans will remain and you can receive a clearance certificate provided you can afford to pay it.
This is very alarming as I have been mailing back and forth and contacting people, but no proper feedback is received.
Benay Sager, Chief Operating Officer at DebtBusters, responds:
It is unfortunate this consumer was convinced to pay R7 000 to exit debt review "to be removed".
There is no regulated fee for this, nor is there such a service to remove yourself from debt review, so entities who offer such services are not legal. We encourage the consumer to file a complaint with the NCR for that specific issue.
With regards to the rules on how one completes debt counselling, since 2015, consumers who are under debt review and who pay off their unsecured debt are eligible to receive a clearance certificate, as long as their bond payments are up to date. How car loans are treated was a subject of debate, however, the prevailing view is that car loans (or VAF payments as more commonly known) are not treated the same as bonds in this instance.
Bonds are considered a "long term agreement" where car loans or VAF agreements are not.
Car loans, in this instance, are treated similarly to unsecured debt, meaning the consumer would need to pay up the car loan – it is simply not enough to be up to date with it – to receive a clearance certificate. In other words, if the consumer has paid up all their accounts and is up to date with their bond payment, they are eligible to receive a clearance certificate.
Compiled by Allison Jeftha.
- Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.
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