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Need Your Statement?

When in debt it is natural to want to know how much debt you have and receive information about your various debts. While in debt review this is part of the important learning process of finally getting to grips with your financial situation. Debt Counsellors will advise their clients to learn to track their debts effectively and actively be involved with their debt situation.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common issues that come up with tracking your debt, getting your statements and resolving any disputes about the actual balance.

Using A Payment Distribution Agent

Most consumers who enter debt review will make use of the convenient services of a Payment Distribution Agent (PDA) who will help make their lives a lot easier and ensure the right payment goes to the right credit provider, into the right account, in the right amount on the right day. They will also keep proof of the payments and provide the consumer (and Debt Counsellor) with a record of these payments.

‘Most consumers who enter debt review will make use of the convenient services of a Payment Distribution Agent (PDA) who will help make their lives a lot easier’

The PDA will provide the consumer with a record of the payment and a statement. This statement tracks the payments verse the plan ordered by the court (or set out by the Debt Counsellor before the court rules on the plan). While this is very helpful it is important for consumers to realise that this should be seen as a rough guide to the repayment plan and figures on the credit provider side may vary slightly.

This very helpful statement will be sent to consumers monthly to help them see that payments have been made. So, what happens when you suddenly stop getting this statement?

Problem: you used to get a statement from your PDA but not recently.

Solution: Make sure that you have given your current email and phone number details to your Debt Counsellor and ask them if they can update your PDA of any changes. You can also contact your Debt Counsellor or the PDA direct and ask why you have stopped receiving your statement. At present, there are only 4 NCR registered PDAs so it should be easy to check your past statements for contact info and then get in touch with them.

Credit Providers Make Mistakes

Some consumers find that once they enter debt review the credit providers are slow to upload the new debt repayment plan onto their computers (either through inefficiency or on purpose). This can mean that the figures that you expect to see on the credit providers statements (or on their app etc) look different from what you received from the PDA or what your Debt Counsellor told you to expect.

Getting such plans to reflect on the credit provider’s side can take a few days and in some cases even weeks (if they are a small operation perhaps) so, you might give them a little slack at first. If however it has been several days or even weeks and the figures do not line up with the debt repayment plan and pending court order you can inform your Debt Counsellor that this is the case.

Remember the Debt Counsellor is not the boss of the credit provider so they can only ask the credit provider to cooperate. It is actually the court who makes things official and cn force the credit provider to cooperate (not the Debt Counsellor).  So, if a credit provider is misbehaving please do not blame the Debt Counsellor. They will help you to try sort the situation out.

Another factor is that people who work at the credit provider or even computer programs they use can make mistakes. All it takes is a single tickbox to go unchecked and you can start to see weird stuff on your statement from the credit provider. While this has improved over the years as credit providers (particularly the banks) have spent money fixing these issues, they can and do make mistakes. If that happens you will see the figures start to look weird and will have to ask your Debt Counsellor to help you sort that out.

Your Debt Counsellor Can Help

If a credit provider has not given you your statement then first check if they have your current contact info (call them or visit in store). Next, you can reach out to your Debt Counsellor who will correspond with them. This can take a few days but will end up saving you time and confusion if there are problems on the credit provider side. Reaching out to the wrong department at the credit provider can result in your getting confusing and incorrect figures.

‘check if they have your current contact info’

Always remember to do this if you move, change email (or jobs) or mobile numbers (eg. if you are on prepaid or your phone is stolen). Interestingly, you have also signed contracts with credit providers which require you to let them know as well.

Resolving Balance Differences

It is normal for some small differences to appear between the PDA statement and the credit provider statements over time. This often just relates to how and when payments are made, how long they take to reflect and how the credit provider works their interest calculations. The differences should however be minor and not involve massive differences in balances.

These smaller differences that normally show themselves over time are referred to as end balance differences (referring to paying off the final bit of the debt at the end of the debt repayment plan for that credit provider). Sometimes this means that a credit provider might have to be paid for one or two extra payments beyond what was originally planned (since the plan doesn’t normally factor in things like public holidays and delays in transfers or cash deposits on one occasion and eft on another etc).

‘Normally your Debt Counsellor, the PDA and the credit provider can sort all this stuff out for you in the background’

Normally your Debt Counsellor, the PDA and the credit provider can sort all this stuff out for you in the background and it will make only a minor impact if any on how long you pay your debts. Perhaps a month or two but really nothing major over the time you spend in debt review.

What though if the credit providers have the figure totally wrong or never captured the debt review arrangement and are demanding a lot of extra money incorrectly?

 

Not Happy? An Alternative Dispute Resolution Agent Can Help

Alternative Dispute Resolution Agents (ADRAs) could be one source of assistance here. They specialise in resolving matters before they need to go to court. They can help sort out something like this once provided with all the information from the consumer, PDA and Debt Counsellor. There is a list of service providers on the NCR’s website and your Debt Counsellor can help you approach one for help.

There may be some fees that apply obviously but this can help you avoid having to go to court to fight with the credit provider about the balance. Legal fees are high so this may be cheaper.

Not Happy? The Credit Bureau Can Help

Each Credit Bureau has a website and on their website, you can find complaint forms. If you download and complete this form (and add more information and supply proof from your PDA and Debt COunsellor) you can then ask the credit bureau to get the credit provider to look at the matter. Hopefully, the credit provider will see all the proof of the arrangement, court order, proof of payments each month and go do the math. Hopefully, they will then adjust their system or at least give a full explanation of what the issue is. For example, maybe the credit provider never gave the Debt Counsellor the info they needed and the court ordered a payment on a balance that was different from what the credit provider had at the time.

Credit Bureaux do not charge for this process. They just want to have the right info on their system.

Not Happy? The National Consumer Tribunal Can Help

The National Consumer Tribunal is an organisation which has the clout of a high court but knows all about debt review because they often deal with debt review matters every day. This helps them have a unique perspective on what consumers who are in debt review are experiencing. They also have the power to make certain things happen. The NCT might be able to help you get information from a non-cooperative credit provider. Speak to your Debt Counsellor and the attorney who helped you get your debt restructuring court order.

Not Happy? Your Attorney Could Help

It is also possible to take the matter to court with the help of the attorneys who helped you with your debt review (or other attorneys who you trust). They might then be able to get the court to order the credit provider to adjust their records. There will however be legal costs so, be sure to find out about those in detail and even better in writing before going down this road.

 

Why Some Credit Providers Still Don’t Give Accurate Info

Many credit providers still have problems with their systems because they have not spent money on making them account for debt review (even though it has been around for so long). Other credit providers purposefully try to leave consumers in the dark as to what they owe so that later they can adjust the books to match what they feel they still want to collect if the consumer leaves debt review. They do not want the consumer to have a piece of paper (which could be used at court) that says they owe less so they simply try not to give the consumer any figures.

For example, some credit providers adjust their records when a consumer enters debt review and a new repayment plan is agreed upon. They reflect this in the consumer’s monthly statements. Great. Other credit providers however essentially tell the consumer: ‘we agree to the debt review and that repayment but if you ever slip up we still view the old arrangement to be in place and will quickly go back to those figures and ignore the debt review’.

So, if you were meant to pay R2000 a month before debt review but only ended up paying R1000 through debt review, if you default they will ask you for all the other R1000s you “should” have paid each month. If you have been in debt review for a year that would be R12 000 plus interest (which they will backdate). 2 years would be R24 000 plus interest and fees and penalties etc. You can see how it can hurt you to have to deal with such credit providers if you drop out of debt review for some reason.

In Summary

(1)

If you have not recently got a statement from your PDA:

Speak to your Debt Counsellor or contact your PDA directly and check if they have your correct contact info.

 

(2)

If you have not got a statement recently from one of your credit providers:

Go into a branch and check that they have the right info. Alternatively, download their banking app (if they have one) so you can check that way.

 

(3)

If the balances you are seeing on the credit providers statements are very different from that shown by your PDA record of payments and projected balance:

Speak to your Debt Counsellor and allow them time to help resolve the issue. If that doesn’t work because the credit provider refuses to cooperate then you might even have to get help from your Debt Counsellor to take the matter up with a credit bureau, ADRA or court or Tribunal to get the real balances to reflect.