Everyone knows the saying “too little too late”. But when it comes to debt review, when is it too late to apply?
Debt review or debt counselling is a process in terms of the National Credit Act, Act 34 of 2005, where a consumer who is over indebted (a consumer who is unable to satisfy timeously all the obligations under all the credit agreements to which the consumer is a party to) applies to a debt counsellor to assist him or her in restructuring his or her debt with credit providers by reducing the monthly instalment and extending the term of the credit agreement.
According to statistics approximately 54% of all credit active consumers are over indebted with some statistics saying it is more than 60%.
These over indebted consumers are likely to have legal action instituted against them by credit providers. Before credit providers are however allowed to institute legal action they must send a notification in terms of Section 129 of the National Credit Act advising consumers of the default and informing them to approach a debt counsellor, ombud or consumer court within 10 days.
After the 10 days the credit provider may institute legal action by issuing summons. As soon as summons is served on a specific account, that account cannot form part of the debt review.
Consumers are therefore advised to seek debt counselling assistance as soon as they realise they are struggling to satisfy their obligations under credit agreement and definitely as soon as they receive a Section 129 letter.
The advantages of applying for debt review is that credit providers cannot issue summons after the debt review process has been initiated and they must act in good faith and participate in the debt review process.
During the debt review process the debt counsellor will negotiate a reduced instalment and can even negotiate a reduced interest rate. This new agreement or proposal will then be referred to court to be made an order of court for the consumer’s protection.