How to change my ‘slow payer’ status

“I’m struggling to buy a car because I cannot get financing. I’ve had some financial problems which resulted in some of my accounts falling behind. All my debt is paid off at this point but my credit record shows that I am a ‘slow payer’. Is there any way I can have this removed from my record?”

Being listed as a ‘slow payer’ is not a new term or new form of blacklisting. Being listed as a slow payer was already possible under the Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practices) Act 71 of 1988 where you could be listed as a slow payer with the credit bureau if you could not comply with your financial obligations in terms of an agreement.

The main difference between being blacklisted and being listed as a slow payer, is that you can only be blacklisted after legal action has been instituted and a valid judgment has been granted against you, whereas you can be listed as a slow payer at any time when you are not able to comply with your financial obligations in terms of an agreement. This position has been incorporated into the National Credit Act 34 of 2005. 

When you have been blacklisted and settled the debt for which you were listed, you can apply to have the listing removed from the credit bureau where you were listed, either by bringing an application for rescission of the judgment and/or by directing a request directly to the credit bureau.

With a listing as a slow payer the National Credit Act determines that once a debt for which you were listed as a slow payer has been settled in full, the credit provider must inform all registered credit bureaus of the settlement and the credit bureau must remove the adverse listing (including classifications as a “slow payer”) within seven days after receipt of such information from the credit provider. If the credit provider fails to submit such information regarding your settlement, you may lodge a complaint against such credit provider with the National Credit Regulator.

Being listed as a slow payer will not prohibit you from obtaining a loan or finance, but it will make it more difficult and have an impact on the amount made available to you. This is not intended to prejudice you but rather meant to safeguard you against reckless lending and prevent you becoming over indebted. 

To challenge the validity of the listing you must contact the credit bureau concerned to raise an objection or lodge a complaint. The bureau then has twenty business days to resolve the issue. Once the complaint is received, the relevant party that listed you will be contacted to provide proof of your default and that the listing is indeed justified. In reality, most complaints are dismissed at this point as the listings are usually done based on documentary proof and thus found to be valid.

If the bureau is unable to resolve the issue, you can refer the matter to the Credit Ombudsman, who will investigate the matter and make a ruling on the available information. Should the Credit Ombudsman be unable to resolve the matter, the National Credit Regulator can then be requested to intervene. 

The sad truth is that the aforesaid processes can therefore be rather drawn out and often result in no change to your status and with the listing remaining on your record until your debt has been paid. The message that lies herein is that if you see you will not be able to meet your payment obligations, timeously contact your bank to arrange a lower premium which you can afford and so avoid the troubles that accompany a slow payer listing.

December 14, 2015
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