The Credit Ombud goes the Extra Mile

It is quite refreshing to discover that in South Africa there are still organizations whose workforce is always prepared to go the extra mile. The case in point is a dispute which the Credit Ombud has had to resolve on behalf of a consumer. The consumer (Mr. Mason) had tried to have his dispute resolved at no success, and approached the Credit Ombud for assistance in the matter. Here is Mr. Mason’s story:

The complaint: Mr. Mason was negatively listed with two judgments at credit bureaus by two doctors. His medical aid had not paid the doctors and he was not aware of this. When the situation eventually came to his attention, he immediately did the right thing and settled the outstanding accounts. Unfortunately by this time the damage had been done as there were default judgment listings on his name at the credit bureaus by the doctors. Mr. Mason contacted the Credit Ombud disputing the validity of the listings on the basis of not having been notified by the two doctors that there were monies still outstanding before taking judgments against him. He requested that the judgment listings be removed from his name at the credit bureaus as he had settled the two doctors’ accounts and had the judgments rescinded.

Going the extra mile: When the Credit Ombud initiated the investigation on Mr. Mason’s complaint, it was discovered that there were other negative listings on his name of which he wasn’t aware. The negative listings of which Mr. Mason was not aware were: a default, a judgment and three outdated payment profile histories. He was notified and afforded the opportunity to dispute these listings if he believed that they were incorrect or invalid. He consented to the Credit Ombud investigating all these other negative listings appearing on his name. Upon investigation, one of the defaults was verified to have been taken unfairly as Mr. Mason was never notified before being listed. The judgment listing qualified for amnesty (under section 73 of the National Credit Act), but had never been removed from his name. The Credit Ombud requested the credit providers concerned to remove these negative listings from Mr. Mason’s name, which was subsequently done. In the case of the three outdated payment profile histories, all these details were updated accordingly.

As for Mr. Mason’s original complaint regarding the two judgment listings, he provided the Credit Ombud with granted rescission order documents. The Ombud investigated and validated the rescission orders and requested that the Credit Bureaus remove these listings on Mr. Mason’s name, which was subsequently done.

Apart from resolving credit related disputes from aggrieved consumers, the office of the Credit Ombud has an objective of educating the general public about credit related matters. Resolving disputes between credit providers and credit applicants represent one of the international consumer rights- the right to redress. Educating the public in credit related matters represents the right to be informed and the right to education. Mr. Mason’s story is a good example of a consumer’s right to be informed. Firstly he was never informed of any adverse actions against him by his doctors. Secondly when he did the right thing by settling the outstanding accounts, went to court to have the judgments rescinded, he did not know that there was still more to be done to have these listings removed from his name at the credit bureaus.

Difference between a default and a judgment
A default means you are in default of your obligations i.e. you have failed to make the payment as per your agreement. The information is submitted by credit providers to the credit bureaus. A default is held on the system at credit bureaus for two years and is then automatically removed. Paying a default account in full, does not automatically qualify for the removal of the listing; however the credit grantor will be obliged to update the information on the credit bureaus that the consumer has paid the total amount outstanding. Should there have been circumstances beyond your control which lead to the default listing, the CO can investigate such. Please note that you must always follow the complaints process.

A judgment is a court order requested by your credit provider when you have not paid your debt. A legal process is followed before a judgment is issued. A summons is issued to the individual. The law stipulates that the summons does not necessarily have to be issued to the individual in person but can be issued to the individual’s domicilium (where the individual lives or where the consumer has agreed that notices maybe served in the event of a breach of contract). The summons informs the individual of the court action and allows them to come forth to defend the action. Where an individual fails to appear the judgment is issued in default. The judgment is held on the system of credit bureaus for five years and is then automatically removed. Judgments are public records, which means that anyone can go and look at this information. The data is kept on credit bureau system for 5 years and on the court records for 30 years. The information can be removed before the 5 year period when it is paid up and rescinded. It can also be removed before the 5 year period if the consumer feels that the judgment was taken in error and lodges a complaint with the Credit Ombud to investigate. If the investigation reveals that the judgment was taken in error the Credit Ombud will request the credit provider to rescind and remove the listing from the consumer’s profile at no cost to the consumer.

To have a judgment rescinded, the consumer must settle the debt first, request a letter from the credit provider stating that the debt has been settled in full and the credit provider has no objection to the consumer applying for the judgment to be rescinded. The consumer has to get a lawyer at their own expense to apply for the rescission of judgment at the relevant court. If the rescission application is successful, the magistrate will issue an order which the consumer can then present to the credit bureaus and request that the judgment listing be removed.

Complaints relating to credit information, non bank credit and debt counseling can be lodged FREE OF CHARGE by contacting the Credit Ombud’s office on 0861 66 2837; For general credit related information the office can be contacted on

NB: Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes