The Credit Bureau Association (CBA) recently stated that credit bureaus will not hold information regarding outstanding e-tolls.
Legally the bureaus could hold this information as SANRAL qualifies as a ‘prescribed person’ who could submit payment information to the bureaus. According to Alison Magrath of the CBA, the bureaus have taken the position that they will only hold payment information on their database that relates to affordability, in other words, when the lack of payment is due to an inability to meet those payments, as opposed to a decision not to make the payment.
Not paying your e-toll account or TV license is not necessarily a reflection of a person’s ability to repay a loan – a position which has previously been supported by the Credit Ombud.
Listen to Maya and Mapalo Makhu discussing this and other topics in the My Money, My Lifestyle podcast.
Under the National Credit Act a registered credit bureau may receive consumer credit information from any person, provided the originating source of the information is:
- An organ of state, a court or judicial officer;
- Any provider of a continuous service as defined in the Act;
- A person providing long-term and short-term insurance;
- Entities involved in fraud investigation;
- Educational institutions;
- Debt collectors to whom book debt was ceded or sold by a credit provider;
- Other registered credit bureaus.
While these entities can submit payment information, the bureaus consider the quality and accuracy of the information.
Theoretically the municipalities could list people who have not paid their rates or services bills. Magrath says that they would welcome the information from municipalities, however the poor quality of the municipality data cannot be relied on as an accurate source of information.
Jeannine Naudé-Viljoen, general counsel at TransUnion Africa, says that the challenge for the bureau is that they are obliged to act in the case of a dispute and if the quality of the data provided is poor, it becomes a challenge to verify the accuracy of the information.
There is also a lot of work involved in submitting the information to the bureaus, so not every service provider or school is going to submit monthly payment data, however they will use the bureau when a judgement has been issued and the information is in the public domain.
Court action required for blacklisting
It is important to note that no-one can just ‘blacklist’ you. Scam artists often use the threat of blacklisting someone if they stop payments or renege on the agreement. If they do not have an agreement to provide monthly payment details to the bureaus, the only way they could ‘list’ your debt is through court action if they managed to obtain a judgment against you. The National Credit Act also prescribes when a default or adverse may be listed against you.
Different credit bureaus may hold different information. For example, information such as rental payments and levies are held by specialist credit bureau Tenant Profile Network (TPN), which is aimed at landlords who want to access the risk profile of a potential tenant.
TransUnion’s CreditVision uses alternative information such as a person’s qualifications and other consumer information to build a risk profile of individuals who may not be credit active. Naudé-Viljoen says they also use trended data to create behavioural patterns to see if the consumer is trending up or down in terms of their credit score. She explains that two people may have the same credit score at a specific point in time, but one has started to miss payments and seen a general decline in their financial situation while another customer may be recovering from an over-indebted position. The latter customer is more likely to get the loan or a better interest rate.
Get your six free credit checks
There are currently six credit bureaus in South Africa who are accredited by the National Credit Regulator to hold consumer credit information and each one is obliged to provide you with a free credit report once a year. If you apply from one bureau at a time, you could check your credit record every second month for free. This will ensure that your credit information is up to date and you have a chance to correct any mis-information. Despite this, fewer than 3% of South Africans ever check their credit records.
This article first appeared in City Press.