10 Commandments of Debt Counselling
10 Commandments…of debt review
Let’s face it. It is easy to get trapped in a downhill slide of credit cards, personal loans and clothing accounts these days. Sometimes consumers borrow more money than they can easily afford to pay back and then suddenly they find themselves in serious financial trouble. The sudden change pushes them over the edge and soon things spiral out of control. It is actually surprisingly easy to become over indebted. Debt Counselling is a great option for over-indebted consumers. But there are a few things you should know about debt counselling. At debt counselling firm Cyber Finance, they have a list of points to look out for or know about the process which they call the 10 commandments of debt counselling. We spoke to them about why they like to share these 10 points with consumers.
Debt Counselling includes Debt Review
Cyber Finance say that one thing that consumers must understand it the difference between debt counselling and debt review. Debt counselling is a more broad term and is basically what they do. They are a debt counselling company which provides the many over indebted South Africans a variety of services to effectively reduce their debt. This they do through a number of debt counselling options. The key, they say, is to find the right service while counselling consumers that best meets their needs and situation. Debt review is the most notable of these options. They also offer a range of other services, including things like sequestration and administration. Debtfree asked them about their debt review related services and their famous 10 Commandments.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Debt Restructuring through a court order
It is very important to be aware that debt counselling (giving debt advice) is not the legal process but rather debt review or restructuring via court is. Debt restructuring through debt review can only be done through an NCR registered debt counselling company (like Cyber Finance). The process of debt counselling is regulated by the National Credit Regulator (NCR). So, make sure that if you approach a company that really is registered with the NCR.
When you are under debt review, you have protection from legal action by credit providers
Because debt review (a service of debt counselling) is a legal process, you are protected by both the rights found in the National Credit Act and by court. This applies from the moment your debt counsellor informs your creditors that you are applying for debt counselling. This is usually one of the first steps taken by your debt counsellor as you begin the process.
There is no permanent record of having undergone debt counselling
After you have successfully completed your debt counselling process and you are no longer over indebted your debt counsellor will provide you with a clearance certificate to state that you are now debt free. No future creditor will be able to see that you have been under any debt counselling process on any credit bureau report.
There is only one monthly repayment to be made
To make it easy for you, all your various, normal monthly debt repayments to all your different credit providers will be consolidated into one monthly payment from you to a Payment Distribution Agent. Your debt counsellor will do a debt assessment and see what debt repayment amount you would consistently and realistically be able to afford every month. This is based on your income and cost of living.
Your budget will meet your basic needs first before provision is made for debts
When applying for debt counselling, your basic living costs are provided for first in the debt counsellor’s calculations and only then will an amount be set aside to go towards your debts. This ensures your families basic needs are met. Your basic living needs include things like food, transport costs, rent, school fees and insurance.
You will never pay more money than you can reasonably afford
This might seem the same as commandment 5, but there is a difference. When it comes down to the exact amount you can pay towards your debts it is best set to the maximum amount you can realistically afford. This helps you settle your debt as fast as possible and with the least charges and interest as a result. So, be careful of debt counsellors (or even credit providers) offering you a much lower monthly payment. That amount may not even be accepted by the court and you could end up paying more than you initially were told. Make sure you understand your actual affordability and that you are not misled by empty promises.
A Debt Counsellor will assist you in managing your finances
At NCR registered debt counselling firms, dedicated debt counsellors help you with great advice during the initial debt assessment which will help you to reduce your total monthly household expenses. While there is a regulated fee that can be charged at many firms, like Cyber Finance, the full assessment is completely cost and obligation free. When just consulting with them you don’t need to make any commitments at that point. When asked why they don’t charge Cyber Finance says: “It is our goal to make [your] life easier while you go through clearing your name and to help you break free from your debts”. They feel that small fee is not important in the face of that.
You are not allowed to make more debt while under debt review
This is probably the most important thing about debt counselling (or in this case debt review). You can’t make new debt. When you think about it, this is really just to help you clear your name as quickly as possible. If you continue to make debt you will always have a problem with making payments and you will stay over indebted.
‘If you continue to make debt you will always have a problem with making payments and you will stay over indebted’
It does cost money, but the fees are limited by law*
Yes, it does cost you money to apply for debt counselling. Cyber Finance say that these professional fees are set by the National Credit Regulator and is even capped to a limit. If using a professional registered debt counselling firm you can rest assured that you will not be over charged and your credit record will not be negatively affected by these costs. Your creditors also agree – in advance through industry agreements – to these debt review charges. Generally, the first payment you make will go towards the debt counselling company for their services rendered. The second month’s payment will go towards the legal fees for your application. At firms like Cyber Finance, these amounts will never be more than your set monthly payment.
Your debts may take a bit longer to pay off
In some cases, this doesn’t apply but there are times where your debts can take longer to pay off because you are paying one reduced monthly payment. That amount is distributed to all your creditors through an NCR registered payment distribution agent (PDA). Since you are paying less than what the credit providers demanded before it can take longer to pay off some of your debts. In most normal cases, your debt is cleared in full within 60 months.
‘there is a lot of information to be aware of before you decide to go under debt counselling’
Become Informed and Act now
There is a lot of information to be aware of before you decide to go under debt review but you can find out more from various reliable sources. If you are over indebted or feeling overwhelmed by your debt and looking for a solution to your situation then talking to an NCR registered Debt Counsellor is defiantly the right way of dealing with your situation, even if you just want some general guidance in the right direction.
We want to thank Cyber Finance for their help in sharing this info and they say that you can contact them today if you want to speak to a financial specialist about debt counselling and how they could help you through one of their services.
Web address: www.cyberfinance.co.za
Contact number: 087 654 4150
*At present, the National Credit Regulator has a non-binding opinion on fees that should be charged and most Debt Counsellors follow this guideline.