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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Do you know what your credit bureau records say about you?

Many consumers apply for credit, only to find out that their application has been turned down due to negative credit information held with a credit bureau.

“Of all our cases last year, 70% of consumers contacted the Credit Ombud office for assistance after their credit application has been rejected due to a negative listing on their credit profile,” says Credit Ombud, Manie van Schalkwyk.

“To avoid disappointment, it’s imperative for consumers to ensure the credit information held with credit bureaus is correct, prior to applying for credit.”

Most credit providers use credit bureau information when undertaking credit assessments and granting finance to credit applicants, the credit profiles are also used to determine interest rates and the terms of business. According to National Credit Regulator (NCR) statistics, a total of 199,26 million enquiries were made on consumer credit records for the quarter ended March 2011, an increase of 12,8% on the previous quarter. This was an increase of nearly 60% compared to the previous year.

Yet enquiries initiated by consumers accounted for just 11.07 million of the total enquiries, a decrease of 5.2% quarter-on-quarter, although an increase of 12.4% year-on-year.

“Most consumers leave it up to the credit provider to check their credit history with a credit bureau when applying for credit,” he says.

Van Schalkwyk explains that in order to ensure their credit records are up-to-date, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit bureau record from any one of the registered credit bureaux annually.

Van Schalkwyk says consumers who feel that they are listed unfairly or that there are incorrect information listed at a credit bureau and have unsuccessfully tried to rectify the situation can contact the Credit Ombud Office for assistance. This service is provided free of charge to consumers.

“If we agree that a consumer’s listing is incorrect, our decisions are binding on credit bureaux and their subscribers, but not to consumers and businesses,” explains van Schalkwyk. “It’s in consumers’ interests to ensure that their credit information is up to date.”

If consumers defaulted through no fault of themselves but latter rehabilitated themselves, should Credit Ombud rule in their favour, relevant negative credit information may be removed from their credit bureau records before it reaches its natural retention period.

Consumers can contact the Ombud office on 0861 66 28 37 or website

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