Frequently Asked Questions
A: It is the employer’s choice on what the exact requirements are for their employees, so we will not be able to say definitively.
However, historically we have seen that in general being under Debt Review is not an issue when looking for employment. The only industry that might have some question is if you are looking to be employed in the financial sector.
Theoretically, there shouldn’t be discrimination towards someone in Debt Review when it comes to employment opportunities.
A: It is very important to open a new savings account at a bank where you have no previous dealings. This is to prevent money grabbing by your current creditors.
Remember to inform your employer to pay your salary into your new, above mentioned, bank account. Also, note that it is your responsibility to cancel all current debit orders and advise the debit orders that will still go off about your new bank account details.
Q: Why Are the Balances on My PDA Statement from DebtSafe Different to the Balances on My Creditors’ Statements?
A: Firstly, Debt Counsellors, as stipulated in the National Credit Act (NCA), are not allowed to manage their clients’ money. Rather, the NCA requires that a Payment Distribution Company (PDA) handles the collection and distribution of funds of Debt Review clients.
The three main reasons why the statements differ are:
- Payments are processed at different periods. The PDA will distribute the funds to the creditors, and a couple of days after that the creditor applies the payment to the account.
- The PDA statements include the Debt Review fees (link to that FAQ), whereas the creditor statements do not.
- Creditor statements include the service fee whereas the PDA statements do not include creditor service fees.
Therefore, PDA statements should be seen as estimates. But, if a client is concerned about the difference in balance they should contact their Debt Counsellor to check if there are any discrepancies or issues that need to be addressed.
If you are a DebtSafe client with a question regarding your PDA statement you can use our updated MyDebtSafe Client Portal. MyDebtSafe will now allow for quicker responses and more efficient resolving of client issues. Please find the instructions to request a call back, or to escalate an issue on MyDebtSafe below:
Step 1: Navigate to www.mydebtsafe.co.za
Step 2: Login with your username and password.
Step 3: Navigate to “My Relationship Manager” in the top menu bar.
Step 4: On the left select “Create” to create a query.
Step 5: Fill in the fields, click “Send”.
A: All credit agreements must be included in your Debt Review. The only exception is those credit agreements where the creditor has started legal action. But even then, you will have to let your Debt Counsellor know about the agreement so that it can be taken into account in your overall monthly budget.
(Very important. You have to disclose all your accounts to your Debt Counsellor, no account may be excluded.)
Furthermore, if you have a shared credit agreement (where you and your spouse, for example, both signed for credit) the person you share that agreement with will also have to apply for Debt Review with you in a joint application.
Regarding service agreements (like tax debt, municipal debt, school fees etc.). Usually, they are not included in your Debt Review, but still, need to form part of your overall monthly budget. There are however exceptions to this.
Each client’s debt and overall financial situation differs, so we would advise getting our free Debt Assessment where a DebtSafe Consultant will be able to determine how your Debt Review will be structured according to your various accounts and financial obligations.
A: The DebtSafe Head Office is situated at 42 Van Riebeeck Road, Mokopane, Limpopo.
DebtSafe does, however, operate nationally, so we can assist you anywhere in South Africa. With our extensive attorney correspondent network, we are confident we can help wherever you are situated.
A: Debt can only be written off by two means, namely Prescribed Debt and Reckless Lending.
Debt has only prescribed if there has been no attempt by the credit provider to collect it or if no summons has been issued for the debt during the last 3 years. Also, if there has been no acknowledgement of debt during the last 3 years. If you have made any form of payment in the last 3 years it constitutes an acknowledgement of debt.
Prescription of debt is a defence; so, when the credit provider attempts to collect you can claim prescription as a defence. You will need to get an attorney to write a letter on your behalf to the respective credit providers notifying them that the debt has prescribed. If the debt has indeed prescribed already, the new Credit Amendment Act prohibits the prescription to be interrupted after 3 years.
The exception to the above-mentioned is Bond Accounts and Judgements – as the term for these are 30 years.
Reckless Lending is when a creditor has failed to conduct a thorough affordability assessment – as required by the National Credit Act (NCA) – at the time of giving the credit. It is also when the credit provider has given credit despite the fact that you did not understand the costs and obligations of the agreement, or when the credit agreement will lead to you becoming over-indebted.
At DebtSafe we offer the option to our new clients of conducting a Reckless Lending investigation.
A quick note about Credit Amnesty
Credit Amnesty was a once-off occurrence between April and June 2014 where the credit bureaus were forced to remove adverse information from credit records. In no way did Credit Amnesty write off people’s debt, it only removed outdated information from the credit records of people who have paid-up their debt.
A: Your monthly repayment plan’s instalment will depend on your individual debt profile. What affects your monthly instalment is:
- The amount of debt you have.
- The type of debt you have.
- Your income.
- Your essential living expenses.
- What we can negotiate with your creditors.
Your monthly instalment will be unique to your situation; therefore, we recommend asking for your free, no-obligation debt assessment. This will give you an estimate on what your instalments will be when in our program.
A: The Credit Act requires that Debt Counsellors use an accredited Payment Distribution Agency (PDA) to manage their client’s money in order to prevent mishandling of funds which means your money stays safe.
Your accredited Payment Distribution Agency (PDA) handles the distribution of your money, and will also provide you with monthly statements. The PDA DebtSafe have partnered with is called Intuitive PDA.
A: If you miss a payment it will give your creditors enough legal reason to terminate your Debt Review and begin legal action against you.
If you find yourself in circumstances where you see you might have trouble paying your next instalment you must contact your Relationship Manager immediately to make arrangements.
Also, if your payments are in arrears no further work will be done on your application until payments are a 100% up to date (even if a payment arrangement was made).
A: Once an account is paid-up in your program the Payment Distribution Agency (PDA) will take the money that would have gone to that creditor and evenly distribute it towards the accounts that are left in your Debt Review program.
A: When entering Debt Review, and any credit agreement, it is important to make sure you have sufficient debt cover. This is called Credit Linked or Credit Life Insurance.
Depending on what Credit Linked/Life Insurance you have there should be some form of protection for your debt in the event of retrenchment.
With DebtSafe’s Income Rescue Plan your monthly debt repayments will be covered for a period of 12 months when you get retrenched. Over and above the retrenchment cover the Income Rescue plan also offers Temporary and Permanent Disability cover; cover in the case of death, ID theft and cover when on maternity leave.
Please speak to your Relationship Manager about the benefits of the DebtSafe Income Rescue Plan as well as the process on how to log a claim.
A: You are insolvent when your liabilities are more than your assets. When considering your assets, you include all income, properties, vehicles, cash in the bank, investments etc. Liabilities are all your debt.
If you want to remain solvent, you must be in a position where your assets are more than your liabilities. When you are insolvent, you can apply for sequestration, which is a process where your assets are sold to offset your liabilities.
Usually, your creditors must get a specific percentage of the proceeds of the sale of your assets. After this, you will not be able to apply for credit for five years, after which you can apply for a rehabilitation order. There are alternatives such as Debt Review, which you should consider first before applying for sequestration.
A: Debt Review is a great option for South Africans in serious financial trouble, still, they will need to consider the pros and cons of the program.
- Consolidate your debt without having to add an additional loan to your debt mass.
- Monthly instalments could be reduced by up to 60%.
- Financial relief with the above mentioned reduced instalments.
- Your home and car stay safe – No repossession, no legal action from your creditors.
- You will be able to afford your family’s crucial living expenses.
- Once the program is successfully completed you will enjoy complete financial rehabilitation with a clear credit record.
- You will not be allowed to get credit while in the program.
- Your Debt Review (application/status?)will be listed on your credit record until the completion of the program or when all your debt listed under debt review are paid up in full.
- The payment period of your debt will be extended in order to lower your monthly instalments.
A: If you received a Summons before entering Debt Review we will not be able to include that account in your Debt Review.
However, we can try to convince that creditor to take part in the Debt Review, but ultimately it will stay the creditor’s decision whether or not they want to participate.
A: Yes, all debts must be included in the DebtSafe program. The only debt that may be excluded (but what you still must tell your Debt Counsellor about) is if your creditors have sent you a Summons before you applied.
A: No. With Sequestration your assets are sold to cover your debt and for five years you are not allowed to get credit after being sequestrated.
A: No. Debt Collection is when an attorney, a person who is an agent of an attorney or a registered debt collector collects, on behalf of the credit provider, an outstanding amount plus lawful interest, admin costs and collection fees, which by law is capped to certain amounts.
A: No. Administration only pays your creditors every third month, the rest of the payments go towards admin fees and commissions. Plus, Administration is only for a debt of R 50 000 or less.
Lastly, Administration exclusively deals with unsecured debt. So, your secured debt, like a home loan or car loan is not included.
A: No, Debt Review is not a consolidation loan.
A loan means more debt. With consolidation loans, you only shift your debt from one place to another. Most people will not qualify for a consolidation loan. Unlike consolidation loans, which have very strict requirements (and at the end leaves you with more debt) Debt Review restructures your credit obligations to an affordable, consolidated, repayment plan.
Read more about the difference between our Debt Consolidation program and a consolidation loan here.
A: Debt Review is a professional service and does require certain fees.
However, there are no up-front fees. All our fees are paid from your instalments and form part of your restructured payment plan.
The fees are regulated by the National Credit Regulator (NCR) and are the same for all Debt Counsellors. There are five types of fees;
- Once-off Application fee
- Once-off Debt Counsellors fee
- Once-off Legal fee
- Monthly Payment Distribution Agency (PDA) fee
- Monthly Aftercare fee
- Once-off Reckless Credit Check fee
Some of the above-mentioned fees will be unique to your debt situation since they are determined by your monthly debt repayment instalment. Our free debt assessment (no obligation required) will provide you with a clearer outline of what your specific fee structure will look like.
A: The duration of your program with DebtSafe will be subject to;
- The amount of debt you have.
- The type of debt you have.
- Your income.
- Your essential living expenses.
- What we can negotiate with your creditors.
How long your program will take is unique to your situation, therefore, we recommend asking for your free, no-obligation debt assessment. This will give you an estimate on the duration of your program.
Important note: Once you are in the Debt Review program and receive extra money you are always welcome to arrange with your Relationship Manager to allocate those funds to a creditor in order to reduce your program’s duration.
A: In theory, you should be able to apply for credit again within a week of receiving your Clearance Certificate. But we have seen that the credit bureaus take longer than that to clear your record. We would suggest waiting three months before applying for new credit.
After the credit bureaus receive your Clearance Certificate each account in your Payment History should have a “Paid Up” or “Closed” status. Since your Payment History remains on your credit report for 2 years your credit score will take some time to become good – as time passes your credit score will improve, and by six months it will be in a much better standing (but you don’t have to wait that long to apply for credit).
Pull your credit report about one month after receiving your Clearance Certificate. Check that everything is in order before applying for credit. If you see that the Debt Review listing sill reflects on your credit profile contact the credit bureau immediately to rectify the listing.
Also keep in mind that even though your credit score might be good, credit providers might still have a flag indicating your history on their internal systems. They must also remove those records. It always remains the decision of the credit provider whether or not they want to extend credit to you. If they do decline your credit application, you have a right to know exactly why they declined it.
A: If everything is in order with your Clearance Certificate you and the credit bureaus should receive it within a few working days. Before issuing a Clearance Certificate DebtSafe will require paid-up letters from all you credit providers. This might take some time depending on the cooperation of your creditors and can sometimes cause a delay in the process.
A: DebtSafe helps South Africans struggling with their debt through a program called Debt Review (also referred to as Debt Consolidation or Debt Counselling).
In short, our program reworks your debt repayments into an affordable, consolidated repayment plan – meaning your debt repayments are made into one single, reduced repayment.
Your repayment plan is formulated in such a way that it enables you to pay your debt as well as pay for essential living costs (school fees, food, rent, commute etc.), giving you immediate financial breathing space.
Your repayment plan is agreed upon by your creditors (we negotiate with them on your behalf), is regulated by the National Credit Act (NCA) and authorised through a Court Order. This means that our program legally protects you, and your assets (car and home), against creditors who want to take legal action against you.
Once you have successfully completed your DebtSafe program you will receive a Clearance Certificate. This is sent to you and the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus will then remove the Debt Review flag from your profile as well as all your default listings. Your payment history will however still reflect on your credit profile for the period of two years as per the conditions of the National Credit Act (NCA).
A: The Debt Review program is structured according to your marriage contract.
Married in community of property (married COP)
The application to the program will be a joint one and all the debt will be thrown into one pool since the law sees you as one estate.
Your income will also be joined in the calculations and the payment of all your debt will be joint into one single instalment. Both will be placed under Debt Review in a joint application.
Married out of community of property (married ANC)
When you are married out of community of property both parties do not have to go under Debt Review.
If, however, there are debts which both signed for and are therefore both responsible for, then both will have to apply for Debt Review. No account may be excluded from the program.
Marrying someone in Debt Review
When marrying someone already in Debt Review it would depend on your marriage contract.
If you are married in community of property (married COP) you will then also need to apply for Debt Review.
If you are married out of community of property (married ANC) then you will not be obligated to apply for Debt Review.
Divorce and Debt Review
If you already have your Debt Review Court Order that Court Order will have to be rescinded if you were married in community of property (COP) or in the case of a joint Debt Review application. Then you will need to re-apply for a new Debt Review program with a new debt profile and repayment plan separate from your ex-spouse or partner.
If your Debt Review Court Order has not been granted yet you will also need to re-apply if you were married in community of property (COP) or in the event of a joint application. Your new application will be separate from your ex-spouse or partner and based on your personal debt profile.
A: To qualify for the DebtSafe program depends on various factors. But, foremost you will have to be seen as over-indebted, as defined by the National Credit Act (NCA). In short, being over-indebted means that you are unable to pay your monthly financial obligations.
Other factors that influence whether you qualify for DebtSafe’s program includes the following:
- Your income.
- The type of debt you have (secured/unsecured debt).
- The amount of debt you have.
- Your living expenses.
- Your marital status.
DebtSafe offers a free, no obligation, debt assessment to determine whether you would qualify for our program.
A: The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is the official governing body that regulates and monitors the Debt Counsellors who are registered with the NCR.
If your Debt Counsellor takes consumer rights and lawful practices seriously they will be registered with the NCR.
The Debt Counsellors of DebtSafe are indeed registered with the NCR. On top of that, DebtSafe has been helping South Africans with their debt from 2009 which makes DebtSafe a well-established company with many years of experience to offer.
Here is DebtSafe’s managing director’s NCR registration number:
NCRDC1078. You are welcome to visit the NCR website to check the registration.
A: You can log a dispute directly with the credit bureau where the wrong information is listed on your record.
If the wrong information is because of a specific creditor you can log a complaint with the Credit Ombud to dispute the listing on your record.
A: You can check your credit record with any credit bureau. There are mainly four credit bureaus in South Africa. They include; TransUnion, XDS, Experian and Compuscan.
By law, you are entitled to pull your credit record for free annually.
A: First, we would recommend that you pull your credit record to see what it looks like and whether it is in good standing or not. It is also a good idea to check your credit record regularly to make sure everything is as it should be.
If you see that there are accounts whose status are in arrears you will have to pay the arrears, and then make sure that you keep up to date with those accounts going forward.
If you have Judgements or Administration Orders on your profile you will need to settle the outstanding debts in order to have that information removed.
Avoid applying at various creditors for credit in a short period of time, this will affect your score negatively. Furthermore, every time you apply for credit and it gets disapproved it also negatively impacts your credit record.
The best way to improve and keep your credit record in good standing is by paying the full instalment that is due on time every month and checking your credit record on a regular basis.
A: Unfortunately, we do not.
To be able to qualify for Debt Review/Debt Consolidation/Debt Counselling you must be employed or receive regular and consistent income. No creditor will accept a non-payment as a viable option during our negotiations with them.
If you are unemployed you can, however, negotiate with your creditors directly to see if they can offer you some sort of breathing space for a few months. Pay them as far as you can and do not stop looking for employment. If too much time passes and you still do not have employment, they will Summons you. You will then be able to explain to the court that you are unemployed, and you can ask the court to give you 3-6 months to find a job. Do not stay away and ignore the Summons. Show up at the court and state your case.
A: In certain cases, we will be able to assist.
But it would depend on that person’s situation. To be viable for our program they would need a stable income to start with. Other factors that will need to be considered first are the amount of debt they have, the type of debt they have, what their living expenses are and their marital status.
A: Our program is created by South Africa’s National Credit Act. Therefore, the only way we can assist non-citizens with their debt is:
- if you have a passport number,
- can prove that you are permanently working in South Africa, and
- your debt is with South African creditors.
A: Creditors have the right to terminate your Debt Review when:
- Payments are not received according to the payment plan.
- The amount being negotiated is not accepted.
- When a counteroffer is not accommodated.
In the case of a termination, DebtSafe will apply for reinstatement.
The biggest reason we have seen for a creditor to terminate a client’s Debt Review is that the client stops making their monthly Debt Review payments. Missing a Debt Review payment gives the creditor the legal standing to terminate the client’s Debt Review and in the worst case, begin with legal action against the client.
A: Yes, you can.
Surrendering your vehicle while your payments are still up to date:
Contact the creditor and give them a written notice that you want to surrender your vehicle. In five business days, you will have to surrender the vehicle to the creditor. Within ten business days of receiving your written notice, the creditor is required to provide you with an official evaluation of the vehicle (stating its value). The creditor will then sell your vehicle. If the creditor sells your vehicle for less than you owe on the car you will be responsible to pay the outstanding amount.
If you are dissatisfied with the evaluation provided by the creditor you can withdraw the notice and recommence the possession of the vehicle. You can also sell your vehicle privately to get a better price.
Surrendering your vehicle when you are behind on payments:
You can inform your creditors that you want to voluntarily surrender your vehicle. Once you signed the voluntary agreement your car will be repossessed.
When you surrender the vehicle during the debt review process – the correct procedure will be to suspend further payments to the creditor until the shortfall amount, if any, has been established. Whereupon, depending on the circumstances, repayment can continue.
A: Yes, you definitely can – don’t feel intimidated by creditors; you have the right to negotiate with them if you anticipate that you will be having trouble repaying your debt. Plus, being proactive will count in your favour.
Before getting everything ready for your negotiations, take the following into account:
- Each creditor will want as much as possible. So you will have to show them that you truly only have a certain amount available and that your offer is reasonable considering your financial situation.
- Most creditors will not be able to accept a pro rata amount on certain accounts (like a vehicle loan or home loan) and may require more than the pro rata amount in order for them to justify that you keep that asset.
- Each creditor will have to be approached individually.
What you need before approaching your creditors:
- A written motivation describing how your financial situation has changed, leaving you in a position where it is necessary to make new arrangements on your credit agreements. Also, add how you have tried your best to keep up with the payments by cutting out unnecessary costs.
- A comprehensive budget that shows your cash flow exactly. On this budget, you need to show what money is coming in, and what all your expenses are (debt repayments, service agreements and essential living costs).
- Calculate how much you can pay each creditor. During this calculation, you will need to prioritise the most critical accounts (like your home loan, car loan, rent etc.)
- Decide for how long you will need leniency on your payments (remember, negotiating for a better repayment plan is only a temporary arrangement, like a few months, and not an option long-term)
- Compile a repayment plan that specifies how much you propose to pay during the leniency period, and how you plan to catch up with the payments after the leniency period is done.
When you have the above in order you can draft a proposal for each creditor. Your proposal will contain your motivation, your calculations for that specific creditor and your proposed repayment plan for that specific creditor. Then, make an appointment with each creditor and present your case, point for point.
As mentioned above, this arrangement with your creditors is only a short-term solution, your creditors will not agree to a long-term repayment adjustment. So if you see that you will need reduced instalments for the foreseeable future you should consider Debt Review which will most likely be a better debt solution.
A: Yes, that is a great way to speed up your Debt Review program.
When you have extra income (like a tax repayment, a bonus or salary increase) you can contact your Relationship Manager to make the arrangements for you. In this situation, you can also stipulate to which creditor you would like to make the extra payment. Important, do not pay it directly to your creditors without notifying your Relationship Manager.
If you have enough extra cash to settle an account in full you are also welcome to do that. How to settle an account:
- Contact the relevant creditor to obtain a final settlement figure.
- Pay the creditor directly.
- Send the proof of payment and paid-up letter to your Relationship Manager so that they can remove the account from your Debt Review and recalculate your payment plan.
A: As a rule, no. It will be seen as reckless since being in Debt Review means that you are not able to pay your current debt. Therefore, the National Credit Act (NCA) prohibits you from acquiring any further credit while you are in Debt Review. Which makes sense since credit is what caused most of our clients’ debt.
The reason for this is that whilst under Debt Review your budget is calculated and precisely allocated to your current debt obligations and other living expenses.
But once you have successfully completed the DebtSafe program you will be able to apply for credit again.
The exception to the rule is a consolidation loan. Consolidation loans have strict application requirements. A reputable credit provider will do a full assessment in order to determine if you qualify for a consolidation loan while under Debt Review.
A: If your cell phone contract is included in your Debt Review budget you should be able to upgrade.
Make sure the monthly amount is not more than what is provided for in your budget. If the upgrade negatively affects your cash flow, it could have repercussions for your Debt Review. Always make sure that you are able to honour your Debt Review payments.
A: When in Debt Review all your current credit agreements are restructured into your monthly Debt Review repayments. Furthermore, you are not allowed to acquire any new or additional credit during your Debt Review program.
With that said you will not be allowed to trade in your current vehicle below Debt Review for a new vehicle if it is linked to a new credit agreement.
You can, however, voluntary surrender your vehicle while in Debt Review.
A: If you are unhappy with the service your Debt Counsellor is providing, or not providing, you have the option to change and transfer to a Debt Counsellor of your choice.
A: The process of cancelling/withdrawing from Debt Review is a complex one and we will always suggest that you talk to your Debt Counsellor before making the decision. Here is what you need to know about exiting Debt Review before completing the program:
Your Debt Review will stay listed on your credit record until a Clearance Certificate is issued. You can only receive a Clearance Certificate when:
- All debts are paid in full, or.
- When all short-term credit agreements, including car finance, have been paid up and you are only left with a home loan which is not in arrears in terms of the Debt Counselling Re-Arrangement Order – plus, you must be able to pay your original home loan instalment, or
You can withdraw from Debt Review prior to a Form 17.2 (prior to being declared over-indebted according to the National Credit Act).
But once the Form 17.2 is issued you will need to approach a Court and get them to rescind your over-indebtedness so that you can be declared as NOT over-indebted. Only when your Debt Counsellor receives this Court Order stating that you are no longer over-indebted will they be allowed to remove the Debt Review listing from your name.
A: It would depend on the type of business. We can only assist you when your business is a sole proprietorship. We won’t be able to assist if your business is a Private Company (PTY) or Closed Corporation (CC) or a Business Trust.
Q: Can Creditors Take Legal Action Against Me, or Repossess My Home/Vehicle While I’m in Debt Review?
A: If you stay up to date with your Debt Review repayment plan your creditors will not be able to take legal action against you – including repossession.
Even with the above said, creditors could try to intimidate and threaten you (which is unethical and unlawful). When a creditor harasses you, you can take the following steps:
- Record all details of the harassment.
- Inform the creditor to contact DebtSafe.
- Contact your Relationship Manager and instruct them to open a Creditor Harassment Incident Report.
Your Relationship Manager will then handle the situation for you further.
Regarding vehicle repossession: Under no circumstances do you hand over your vehicle. Debt Collectors use illegal, dishonest, ways to trick you into giving up your vehicle. If confronted by them, do not sign anything and contact your Relationship Manager immediately.
Repossession is only legal when a Warrant of Delivery is handed to you by the Sheriff, and not in any other circumstances.
“DebtSafe was the best thing that ever came to my life. Thank you DebtSafe.”
- Candy M.
“Being under debt review, especially with DebtSafe, is the best decision I've made.”
- Wendy S.
“DebtSafe helped me when I did not know where to get help anywhere.”
- Cornelius H.