• People who incur unnecessary debt find themselves in a position where they are no longer able to service those debts. Failure to pay debts has long-term consequences. Your name will be registered with the credit bureaus. The next time you apply for debt, your name will be flagged. This means you’ve been blacklisted and won’t qualify for a loan.
  • Failing to pay off furniture you bought on credit could mean that when you’re ready to settle down, you won’t qualify for a bond. Being blacklisted by the credit bureaus can derail your future plans.
  • The good news is that it is possible to clear your name with the credit bureaus. It might not be an easy road ahead. However, it’s worth it for your financial future if you can get yourself on the right side of the credit bureaus.

What do credit bureaus do?

These are registered businesses that obtain, record, collate and maintain credit information. This is done corresponding with your ID number.

The information they obtain gives a picture of how you conduct yourself when you take on a debt. The bureaus make their services available to other businesses. For a fee, they provide a retailer a report about your credit habits and status.

If you’ve been blacklisted, here are some ways to clear your name:

1. Pay the debt

The easiest step is to approach the business to whom you owe money and settle the account. Often, you can negotiate a settlement with them. Afterward, you can ask your creditor to write a letter to the credit bureaus exonerating you of the debt because you’ve paid it. The credit bureau will then delete the blacklisting.

The creditor is, by law, not obliged to write such a letter. Make the letter part of your negotiations by means of a written contract or agreement. When you agree to pay the debt, make it conditional upon the creditor issuing the notice to the credit bureaus. If you feel you need help, consult an attorney.

2. Go into debt counselling

Debt counselling and consolidation is a route to settling outstanding debts if you cannot pay them immediately. But be warned, use a reliable and established company. A lot of fly-by-night debt counselling businesses will take your money and not pay your debts. Check out the track record of a company before you approach them.

Once you’ve consolidated your debts, keep track of them to make sure they’re being paid. It will take you longer, but your debts will eventually be paid. Then you can have your creditors write a letter to the credit bureaus absolving you of all debt obligation.

3. Check out your report

If you’ve been blacklisted and you feel it’s unfair, you can approach the Credit Bureau Association (CBA).

Their postal address is:
PO Box 2146

Their email address is:

Their phone number is:
(011) 463 8218

Their physical location is:
The Campus
Twickenham Building
Ground Floor
Corner Main and Sloan Streets

4. Get legal help

Few South Africans are aware of their consumer rights. Even fewer have access to attorneys to represent them. However, there are websites that can help you to understand your rights and responsibilities as a consumer. You can get legal cover for as little as R49 pm from Right Cover Online. This is probably one of the most affordable options and the value you can get from this far outweighs the price.

The best way to keep your name away from credit bureaus is to service your debts. You can’t get a loan without a debt record. That means you need to incur debts to show you can be responsible and pay them off. If you can’t pay the debt, don’t bury your head in the sand, get help before you’re blacklisted.

  • Failure to pay debts leads to blacklisting which affects your ability to apply for credit.
  • If you’re blacklisted, settle the outstanding debt and get your creditor to write to the credit bureau.
  • There is a case for debt consolidation as long as the firm you choose is reputable.
  • Approach the Credit Bureau Association if you’ve been treated unfairly.
  • There’s online help if you cannot afford an attorney.
  • Know the law and your rights as a consumer. Discharge your debt responsibilities to avoid being blacklisted. If you can’t manage your debt, get help before it’s too late.

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