What’s the deal with consumer rights? Well, it is kind of a big deal when it comes to standing up against reckless lending practices or retailers contravening the Act. Think about it – if you did not have any rights – what about the continuous exploitation you, the consumer, would have to endure? As the South African Government highlights: “the world has to be informed of the importance of observing and enforcing consumer rights. Too often consumers are left at a disadvantage with the companies and governments they encounter, leaving them exposed to unsafe, unfair or unethical practice.”
The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is investigating and trying to prevent bad practice against consumers. Unfortunately, this is not enough – consumer abuse is still all too real. The regulating body, therefore, cannot do it alone, you and other South African consumers play an integral role to help avoid reckless borrowing (on your part) and to voice reckless lending scenarios (evident via the retailer/provider).
According to the NCR you and other consumers have, amongst others, rights in terms of the National Credit Act (NCA) to:
- Apply for credit and receive an understandable credit agreement.
- Know why your credit application was declined (if so).
- Receive your free credit report once a year from a registered Credit Bureau and if evidence is available, question/dispute incorrect information.
- Receive advertising which includes the cost of credit, plus ALL other information.
- Forbid reckless lending practices.
- Apply for debt review/counselling to restructure your debts and to negotiate with creditors.
Take your own credit history, applications and scenarios into account. Does one or more of the above ring a bell (that did not happen)? If, from your end, you can say that you played no part in reckless borrowing and were honest or offered disclosed information when you applied for credit. But, feel utterly betrayed right now – your consumer rights have indeed then been violated. Why not try and do something about it?
March is your reminder of various rights. Continue, therefore, to be an honest ‘credit borrower’ and when it comes to your consumer rights, remember your voice is powerful. So, speak up against any signs of reckless lending or unfair practices.