Bad Advertising (NCR Circular)
NCR Warns Of Poor Advertising Messages
The National Credit Regulator (NCR) has distributed an industry circular reminding Debt Counsellors to monitor the quality of their marketing people and their messages about debt review being distributed on Facebook or via SMS.
Some websites and messages are making use of the NCR’s logo illegally. This is a ‘no no’ and should not be done without express written permission from the NCR – which they seldom ever give. Even those who do get permission to use the NCR’s logo for something normally have to renew this permission each year. Keep this in mind if you are a Debt Counsellor and have a website.
Weird & Confusing Messages
These days we are all very used to receiving adverts via SMS or getting things advertised to on our social media. What is key is that in such short messages we get enough info to make an educated choice about what is being promoted. In many cases, we can receive spam (unwanted adverts or messages) – which no one enjoys. In some cases, we receive messages that can be very misleading because of how they are worded. This is something the NCR want to see avoided in the debt counselling and debt review industry. Sadly, however, some marketing people have crossed the line or fallen short of the standard that protects the industry from disrepute. Here are some of the examples of adverts that the Circular from the NCR specifically mentions:
There is a new High Court ruling helping people in debt write off up to 63% of their monthly payments. Click “Apply Now” to take the FREE assessment;
DEBT RELIEF- High Court ruling frees South Africans in debt. TAP “SEND MESSAGE”. (This advert displays the picture of the President of the Republic of South Africa, the Honorable Cyril Ramaphosa);
NCR DC is giving South Africans “Extra Cash” to enjoy by reducing debt interest and protection from repossession of assets. Free assessment sms “YES”;
There is government proclamation on cancellation of debts; and….
There have been many court ruligns over they years but none recently that specifically relate to writing off debt. Debt review seldom if ever involves writing off debt. The idea is to rather pay off the debt in a reasonable manner. Debts are similarly not cancelled, they are paid off over time. And putting a picture of the president next to a message is just cheeky as it implies he is supporting the message.
Misleading Adverts About Removing Consumer’s Debt Review Status
Once consumers begin debt review, they are required to finish the process and settle their debts before being able to access more credit again in the future. This can only be done after an NCR registered Debt Counsellor issues them with a Clearance Certificate (if all their debts – with the exception of their bond- is paid up). This certificate is shared with credit bureaus to get them to remove the “flag” or notice that the consumer is under debt review.
‘The NCR specifically mention companies that make empty promises to consumers about removing the record of the existing debt review status of the consumer’
The NCR specifically mention companies that make empty promises to consumers about removing the record of the existing debt review status of the consumer from the credit bureaus. In the example they cite the SMS or Facebook post says:
We will attend to your legal and debt review flag removal in 20 working days with or without a court order.
Let The NCR Know
If you see any such dodgy messages then you can email the NCR and let them know about what you saw (attaching a screengrab or a picture will help them a lot). The NCR will then take steps to contact the company involved and ensure they stop.