cat The Debt Review Process

The Debt Review process in South Africa is a financial life preserver for individuals burdened with over-indebtedness, providing a legal course of action to fix your debt.

Understanding what the debt review process is will: 

Empower you to make a well-informed decision about your finances, and

Provide comfort in knowing how each step contributes to a sound and sustainable financial future.  

The DebtSafe Debt Review process is regulated by the NCR (National Credit Regulator), making it a safe, sustainable choice.

Explore the Debt Review process topics below that explains what you can expect when choosing to partner with DebtSafe to fix your debt.


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A: The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is the ‘regulating body’ of the South African credit industry. The regulator was established by the National Credit Act No. 34 of 2005 (referred to as ‘The Act’).

The regulator aims to encourage the development of an accessible credit market – mainly involving underprivileged persons, low-income individuals, and isolated communities. Credit bureaus, credit providers and debt counsellors are regulated and required by the NCR to comply with ‘The Act’.

A: The National Credit Act / NCA (also referred to as ‘The Act’) became fully operational on 1 June 2007. The Act aims to provide improved standards of consumer information and strives to promote a fair and non-discriminatory platform for consumer credit by regulating the process.

A: The National Credit Act (NCA) has been a subject of criticism due to its drafting and wording. The National Credit Amendment Act (NCAA) became operational on Friday, 13 March 2015 and contains the broadest changes to the Act to date.

A: The National Credit Act (NCA) must be read with the National Credit Regulations (the Regulations) promulgated in terms of the NCA (or ‘The Act’). The Regulations are complementary to their enabling sections in ‘The Act’. They provide for matters not specifically dealt with by sections of ‘The Act’. The Regulations became operational on Friday, 13 March 2015.

A: Due to the endorsement of the National Credit Act 34 (of 2005) in 2007, Debt Counsellors started their profession in the Debt Counselling industry. Debt Counsellors are required in terms of section 86(6) to conduct an assessment concerning the over-indebtedness of a consumer. Through the Debt Counselling or Debt Review process a Debt Counsellor, therefore, offers a responsible and regulated rehabilitation remedy to an over-indebted consumer or individual.

If the Court declares an individual as ‘over-indebted’ and the person goes under Debt Review, the Debt Counsellor needs to remain a person of trust and integrity. Typical tasks involve the following (but are not limited to): negotiating with creditors, taking care of the necessary registration processes and various behind-the-scenes administrative tasks.

A: Alternatively known as the Debt Review Application Form.

This is your Debt Review Application Form as required by the National Credit Act (NCA). Your Debt Counsellor needs this form to assess your financial situation. Your Debt Counsellor will also be expected to verify the application’s information through supporting documentation from you and your creditors – just to double check that the information is accurate so that the best repayment plan can be prepared for you.

A: Alternatively known as your Clearance Certificate.

This is your key to your new beginning and what you are working towards in your Debt Review. Your Clearance Certificate will be issued when:

  • All your accounts listed under Debt Review have been settled.
  • You are able to carry on with the original agreements you have with your creditors.
  • All your accounts are paid up, except for your home loan (your home loan must be paid up to date as per your Debt Review agreement).

Your Clearance Certificate will be sent to you and the credit bureaus, who are then required by the National Credit Act to clear your credit record.

A: Once your Debt Review application has been completed your Debt Counsellor is required by the National Credit Act to let your creditors and the credit bureaus know that you have formally applied for Debt Review.

This communication is done through a Form 17.1 and is sent to your creditors within 5 business days after the completion of your Debt Review application.

A: Your Debt Counsellor will do an in-depth evaluation of your financial situation to determine whether you legally qualify for Debt Review.

Once your Debt Counsellor has completed the evaluation they will send out a Form 17.2 which then states whether you are over-indebted and whether you would benefit from Debt Review. This form is then sent to your creditors and the credit bureaus.

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.

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: 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: 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 one of the DebtSafe Debt Counsellors 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 a DebtSafe Debt Counsellor.

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 a DebtSafe Debt Counsellor so that they can remove the account from your Debt Review and recalculate your payment plan.

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 one of the DebtSafe Debt Counsellors to allocate those funds to a creditor in order to reduce your program’s duration.

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: 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: 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.


Contact us for a free, no-obligation, quote.