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What The Stats Reveal

You may be wondering how many people are entering debt review each month. Debt Counsellors may be curious to find out if consumers are still eager to enter the process.

The stats tell a story, let’s have a look at some of the recent figures.

Recent Sign ups

While the figures do fluctuate at different times of the year, the interesting news is that overall, the figures seem to be staying fairly high compared to past years.

You can see the usual predictable end-of-year reduction in sign-ups. People prefer not to deal with their debt just before holiday season. Even the November and December numbers are not terrible.

The year starts very strong with the January figures being high.

While we do not have more figures to share right now, April is traditionally a slower month (as people hate to enter debt review when they could rather go away and relax during the public holidays). Last year, the April figures were 12 989 sign ups.

Now in most industries, there is some level of “buyer’s remorse” with consumers trying to back out of their new commitments. Lots of people sign up for gym but never actually go more than 2 or 3 times.

Debt review is sadly the same with some Debt Counsellors reporting up to a 20% drop off in the first month, no matter what they try. This is one reason some are calling for a cooling off period for debt review sign ups, similar to the returns and cancellation policies of the CPA.

But how many people have ever entered debt review since 2007 and how many are in debt review right now?

Let’s have a look.

Number of People In Debt Review

March 2024: 2 039 235 Total Number to ever sign up incl. those who successfully finished

March 2024: 1 356 672 Number of consumers currently with a debt review flag at the credit bureaus

First off, we need to acknowledge that many people who have signed up for debt review over the years, have not stuck with the process and have as a result been left stuck with a debt review status at the NCR database and various credit bureaus. This is the case even though they are not actively working with a professional Debt Counsellor to pay off their debts.

Some are fighting the uphill battle to try settle up their debts again on their own and others are back to the old pattern of just paying whoever pesters them the most each month.

So, a better and more accurate figure to look at, is the number of consumers who are currently paying off their debts via the various PDAs. These are consumers with Debt Counsellors and who are paying each month:

That number is around 245 000

So, we have around 1.1 million who are doing… who the heck knows on their own without help but still have a debt review status! That’s the kind of stat that makes the Capitec CEO sad.

The Figures Don’t Lie…much

It seems that there are many consumers who are eagerly signing up for debt review each month. So, Debt Counsellors are able to find clients to help. At least, some Debt Counsellors are doing so.

So far, 2024 has been a year with high stats showing how stressed consumers are with high food inflation and high interest rates.

Even if 20% of those signing up each month never follow through, we still have an impressive number of people who start to repay their debts in a more manageable way each month.

Combined these debt review clients (paying via the PDAs) are putting around R1.5 billion back into the credit providers’ pockets each month.

‘There is, of course, some natural churn in the figures’

There is, of course, some natural churn in the figures, as some people finish up debt review and some people drop out of the process while others are signing up at the same time, but there does seem to be a slow increase in numbers over time. There certainly is a reported increase in enquiries by people asking for advice or help. Some practices who market hard have reported a 40% jump.

The stats do also show that there is a desperate need to try help those consumers who once started the process to get back into the process properly, and start to settle up their debts seriously. It is hoped that the new NCR Debt Review Task Team may be able to find ways for this to happen.