- Why is it important to know what is reflected on my credit report?
When you know what your credit report looks like you can apply for credit with confidence. It is also important to know which accounts are negatively affecting your credit score so that you can improve the payment of these accounts. When you request your own report you can see who has been making enquiries on your profile. This is important to make sure that you do not become a victim of fraud or identity theft.
- Who can access my credit report?
When you apply for credit you give the store or bank permission to view your credit report. They use this information to decide whether or not you can get credit. In terms of the National Credit Act, they must do a proper affordability assessment before they can give you any credit, assessing how much you owe to who, and how well you keep up with those payments. Your credit report helps them to do this. You can also get a copy of your own credit report at any time.
- What does it cost to get my credit report?
You can get a free copy of your own credit report from each of the registered credit bureaus once a year. If you want more than one copy during the year, the credit bureau will charge you a small fee. Each bureau sets this fee individually, and it ranges from R15 to R36.
- Who can be ‘listed’ on the credit bureau?
There are currently 22 million credit active consumers in South Africa. These are people who buy goods and services on credit and each one of them has a credit profile with a credit bureau. You cannot be ‘listed’ on the credit bureau but you do have a credit profile – even if you are a good consumer with no bad debts. Having a credit profile is not a bad thing in itself, but simply shows that you are credit-active.
- Where does the information on my credit report come from?
When you enter into an agreement for goods or services you give permission for the provider to submit your information to the credit bureaus. The credit bureaus also hold public information, such as if a judgment has been obtained against you in a court for bad credit payment. This information normally comes from the court.
- How can I improve my credit report?
- Pay your accounts on time every month. Setting up fixed debit orders with credit providers is a good way to ensure this happens automatically.
- Pay the full installment every time.
- If you cannot make a payment for any reason, contact the credit provider to make a payment arrangement.
- Never buy on credit without knowing that you can afford the repayments.
- It is recommended that you keep your total credit repayments (including your house bond) between 20% and 30% of your income – for example: if you earn R 5000 per month, your repayment should not be more than R 1000 to R 1500 per month
- lie on a credit application.
- ignore a letter of demand or a summons for payment – contact the credit provider to explain your situation.
- Stay informed about your personal credit information. Obtain a copy of your credit report at least once a year.
- What if the information on my credit report is wrong?
It is very important for the credit bureau to ensure that the information on your credit report is accurate. If anything is incorrect you can dispute this with the credit bureau. It will investigate the information and if it is incorrect the credit bureau will correct or remove the information. This process can take up to 20 business days. If you are not happy with the result you can refer your query to the Credit Ombud on 0861 662 837 or online at www.creditombud.org.za.
- What if people have bought something using my ID?
This is one of the reasons why it is very important for you to request your own credit report regularly. If your credit report shows accounts or enquiries for credit that you are not aware of, you should contact these companies immediately. They must be able to show you the application form or the consent to conduct an enquiry. If you are not happy with the feedback you can log a dispute with the credit bureau.
- I have seen notices of companies that claim to be able to remove my name. What can these companies do for me?
These companies are known as credit repair companies and most of them operate illegally. The Credit Bureau Association does not support any of these companies and we advise consumers not to use their services. There is nothing that these companies can do for you that you cannot do for yourself.
- Where do I get my credit report?
You can request a copy of your credit report from any registered credit bureau that holds consumer credit information. They are as follows, in alphabetical order:
Call Centre on 0861 514 131
Online at www.mycreditcheck.co.za
- Consumer Profile Bureau:
Call Centre on 010 590 9505
Online at www.cpbonline.co.za
Call Centre on 0861 105 665
Online at www.creditexpert.co.za
Call Centre on 0861 482 482
Online at www.mytransunion.co.za