1. What is a credit bureau / buro?
Typically, a credit bureau is an agency that researches and collects individual credit information and sells it for a fee to creditors so they can make a decision on granting loans.
There has been a long history of credit bureaux in South Africa with the first being established in 1901, namely RG Dun & Company, known today as TransUnion.
2. How are the credit bureaux regulated?
The South African credit bureaux are regulated in terms of the National Credit Act ( NCA ) and the Regulations thereto. Section 43(3) of the NCA prescribes certain requirements that need to be met in order for an entity to be registered as a credit bureau.
3. Where can I contact the credit bureaux?
There are currently 14 credit bureaux registered in South Africa from which the following four are the best known and more commonly used than the others:
- Compuscan Information Technologies
Phone: 086 151 4131
Phone: 0861 1058 665
Phone: 0861 482 482
- Xpert Decision Systems, more commonly known as XDS
Phone: 011 645 9100
One can also visit: http://www.ncr.org.za/register_of_registrants/cb.php for information regarding all the registered credit bureaux which currently operate in South Africa.
4. What is a credit score and how is it determined?
One often hears credit scores which are provided by credit bureaux. Your credit score is determined by the way in which you pay your bills. The more efficiently and timeously your bills are paid, the higher your credit score will be. The period of time for holding a credit account also increases your credit score. Not all bureaux will reflect the same score as they may use different methods as well as different information to calculate your score. A score which is considered to be a good credit score is in the range of 720. With a score such as this a person may qualify for the largest loans along with the most beneficial terms.
One can check the credit score assigned to you or your business with any credit bureau once a year at no charge.
This right to challenge the information of a credit bureau is provided in section 72 of the NCA. In terms of this section a consumer may require the credit bureau or the National Credit Regulator to investigate the accuracy of any challenged information without charge to the consumer. While the information held by a credit bureau is challenged it may not be reported until the challenge has been resolved. Once a challenge has been lodged the credit bureau has 20 business days to resolve the challenge and if any information is removed all relevant parties who accessed the information must be informed of this removal.
The information which is held by a credit bureau is referred to as a credit report. A credit report is basically a person’s personal credit record and contains information such as personal information, civil judgments for debt, legal notices including administration orders, provisional sequestration -, final sequestration – and rehabilitation orders and any other adverse information.
5. I have been blacklisted: What does it mean and what are my remedies?
“Blacklisting” means that a credit provider has listed a person for non-payment which resulted in a debt being written off (an enforcement listing) or for slow payment or late payment (a subjective listing).
There are certain periods of time for which a blacklisting remains on your name, but these periods vary from category to category. A judgment or rehabilitation order remains against your name for 5 years, an administration order for 10 years, enforcement listings for 2 years and subjective listings for 1 year.
There are ways to remove the blacklisting which you might find to be against your name sooner than provided for in the prescribed periods. For instance a judgment that has been made against you can be rescinded, forcing the blacklisting to be immediately removed. The same applies when you have been sequestrated and you are granted a rehabilitation order. Secondly a person may challenge the information on which the blacklisting is based as explained above, and if successful the blacklisting will be removed immediately.