Do Your Homework Before Debt Review
Before You Start Debt Review
Choosing the right person to help you with debt review is vital.
Making a poor choice can make getting out of debt even harder than it needs to be.
So, how do you find the right Debt Counsellor for you?
Debt Review Works
If you have been thinking about making use of debt review to deal with your debt situation then you have made a good decision.
Hundreds of thousands of people have made use of the process since 2007 to get out of debt.
Debt review is a legal process, done via the courts which normally involves making smaller debt repayments over a longer time period. Pivotal in the process is the Debt Counsellor who helps you make needed budget adjustments, and proposes to the courts how the debt can best be settled.
Debt review is an amazing part of South Africa’s laws that puts it miles ahead of many other countries in protecting consumers.
Finding The Right Debt Counsellor
Finding the right dentist, doctor or lawyer is just as challenging as finding the right Debt Counsellor.
Often who you work with may depend on circumstances, availability or personal choice.
There are however a few things that everyone thinking about starting debt review can consider when choosing a Debt Counsellor to work with.
- Are they Registered with the National Credit Regulator? You can visit their website type in the name of the person speaking to you or that you plan to speak to and find out. Head to ncr.org.za
- You can ask the Debt Counsellor to see their NCR Registration Certificate. If they don’t provide it right away then run away.
- Do they have physical offices that you can go and visit? Why not drive past and have a look? That way if you need to see them urgently you can just walk in the front door.
- Check out their social media and website. While you can’t trust everything you see online, if they have a social media presence and website with up to date information this shows they pay this side of things some attention and are professional. If they only have a Facebook page and nothing else, be careful. They should be professional.
- Do they belong to a professional Association? For Debt Counsellors this will be someone like DCASA, NDCA, AllProDC or the iDCC. You can google them. These associations also provide another way to check on the validity of the practice and can help if you have a complaint.
- Check out their online reviews on Google and Hello Peter and other sites. If they have only 5 star reviews and no lower reviews then…well, it would be unusual for someone to have perfect reviews only. At the same time it is not unusual for all businesses to have a few lower rated reviews. This indicates a client or two had challenges but is no reason to dismiss a practice out of hand. Lots of bad reviews is probably a red flag.
- Do they promise the world? Beware of people making 100% guarantees. Beware of people whose promises are just crazy. Sure debt review is great and yes, you will probably pay much lower instalments and get great concessions from credit providers but all the arrangements have to go via court or tribunal and the Magistrate makes the final call, not the Debt Counsellor. So, beware of promises that are too good to be true and are linked to demands for up front payment. That’s now how debt review works.
- Beware sales agents who are over eager to get you into the process. If you are not ready to enter debt review and have been speaking to someone about the process then make it 100% clear you do not yet want to start the process. Especially is this true if dealing with someone on the phone. You may want information to help shape your decision but you should not feel rushed. Make sure the person you speak to helps inform you, not sell you. When discussing critical debt information talk directly with a Debt Counsellor.
- Do they use a PDA? Debt Counsellors are not allowed to accept direct payment or handle money on behalf of consumers. Only 4 companies can do that and they are registered with the National Credit Regulator (CollectNet, DC Partner, Hyphen PDA, iPDA). If someone asks you to pay them directly then you should be very, very careful.
The “It” Factor
On top of all those logistical things, you also want to work with someone who you can build a good relationship with.
For most people debt review lasts 3 to 5 years. That’s a long time to work with someone even a doctor, dentist or attorney. So, make sure that you and your future Debt Counsellor click. Not that you will be best friends but that you feel you can trust and work with them.
‘For most people debt review lasts 3 to 5 years’
The debt review process is basically the same whoever helps you. The processes and systems are quite similar these days. So, what you are looking for is a professional, registered person who you feel that you can trust.
Do your homework beforehand. Learn about the process online and by speaking to people and make choosing the right person to help you for the next few years your next best financial decision.