MONEY CLINIC | I'm under debt review, owing R55 000. Is there a company that can help me?

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A desperate reader, who has been under debt review since 2017, wants to know if there is a company that will help in settling the outstanding debt and accept monthly repayments. She writes: 

I have been in debt review since 2017 and I'm stuck and still owe R55 000. Is there a company that can help me in settling that amount for me, which I can then pay off monthly?

Renee Marais, registered and independent debt counsellor with the NCR responds:

A consumer can only exit debt review when all debt under all credit agreements subject to the debt review has been paid in full.  

There was a High Court directive handed down in September 2019 by Judge Sutherland (full bench) that expresses the exit of debt review in accordance with the National Credit Act.  

If a consumer wants to exit debt review before or after a debt review order the first option is to provide a debt counsellor with proof of your full payment of all debt subject to the debt review and the debt counsellor then issues you with a clearance certificate.  This is form 19 as prescribed in the National Credit Act forms:  

This form 19 can only be issued by a registered debt counsellor.

If you do not have a debt review order, the alternative is to approach a court and demonstrate to the court that you are no longer over-indebted and the court will exit you in terms of the law. 

This will, however, require a full assessment from a debt counsellor to determine over-indebtedness; proof that all debt still outstanding is up to date with the contracts; the debt that in the meantime has been paid, has paid-up letters; and that your financial situation has improved. This will require a court process, sworn affidavits by you and the debt counsellor in support and there are fees involved.

The best way to exit debt review is, as soon as you are financially able, to start paying off the debt. You can do this by paying the smallest one off, then utilising the additional funds to pay the next smallest one off in full, and so on.  

A final comment: a company is not a debt counsellor. A natural person is registered with the National Credit Regulator and has a particular NCRDC number unique to that person. The person responsible for consumers is not the company but the individual duly registered debt counsellor and that person should respond to consumers. You will know the NCRDC number as it must be visible on all documentation and is usually indicated on the debt review order.  

If you do not know who your debt counsellor is, contact the National Credit Regulator 0860 627 627. The National Credit Regulator is obliged to keep a register of all registrants which are: Debt counsellors, credit providers, credit bureaux, alternative dispute resolution agents and payment distribution agents. Find your debt counsellor here

*Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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