Debt counselling offers an ideal solution for many over-indebted consumers out there, with an effective debt repayment plan

A debt counsellor’s repayment plan may differ in the finer details of the procedure, but trained advisors take over-indebted consumers from financial failure to financial success. This process is done via the implementation of the debt review program from the application process (start) to the issuing of a Clearance Certificate (finish). With regard to the above, in some cases many consumers continue to believe certain myths regarding debt counselling and it reflects a distorted and negative view of a valuable process.

DebtSafe decided to ask a few of its many debt-free clients to comment on the experience they had with the debt review process. With regards to the feedback provided, debt management expert, Wikus Olivier sheds some light on the feedback provided by clients and debunks some common myths consumers tend to believe about debt counselling.

1. All debt counsellors are the same

Olivier mentions that every debt counsellor has their own set of procedures, values and outlook when it comes to assisting individuals with their debt review process. Debt counsellors should therefore not be generalised and consumers should not assume that all South African debt counsellors operate in the exact same way.

Debt counsellors should therefore not be generalised and consumers should not assume that all South African debt counsellors operate in the exact same way.

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Olivier mentions that although the majority of the debt counselling process is regulated by the National Credit Regulator, each debt counselling firm is unique in several ways:

  • How they handle client care.
  • The position of their brand in the market.
  • The ‘behind the scenes’ processes/systems that differentiate each debt counselling firm.
  • The manner in which each firm adds value for their clients and how they handle statutory and procedural requirements.
  • The core values, systems and approach to solving a client’s debt problems.

When selecting a debt counsellor, pick one who speaks to your own core values, and with whom you can relate as an individual. You will be building a close relationship with your debt counsellor, and might be dealing with him/her for a few years to come. It is for this reason that your selection is important.

2. Nothing can be learned from the debt counselling process

To quote a debt-free consumer: “What I have learnt through the debt counselling process is that you have to save money where you can. And don’t spend more than you earn.”  Olivier ensures consumers that there is a lot to learn during a debt counselling process, from managing future finances to how one can appreciate financial freedom.

Debt counselling establishes a behavioural change when it comes to a consumer’s finances. The effect of debt counselling is quite drastic, but what the consumers gain in understanding their finances is priceless. 

Debt counselling establishes a behavioural change when it comes to a consumer’s finances.

3. Debt counsellors just want to make money

Debt counsellors provide various skills and services to make sure clients attain their Clearance Certificate (Form 19 in terms of the National Credit Act) at the end of the debt counselling process.

The tasks involved, can include the following: consolidating debt into one affordable instalment, giving the client cash-flow relief from their next paycheque, dealing with credit providers and keeping them off the client’s back, implementing a reasonable payment plan, clearing clients from credit bureaus and also enabling clients to continue to provide for their family’s vital living expenses.

Firstly, all debt counselling fees are regulated by the National Credit Regulator.

Firstly, all debt counselling fees are regulated by the National Credit Regulator. Debt Counsellors cannot simply charge what they want. Most Debt Counsellors are champions for their clients. They are always on the lookout for how they can save the consumer more money.

On the other hand, debt counselling is extremely administrative intensive. The amount of work that needs to be done in order to set a client on his/her merry debt free way is staggering. From the application, to negotiations, to correspondence and proposal acceptances to court orders, dealing with ad hoc creditor issues and finally issuing a Clearance Certificate.

4. One cannot get credit after debt counselling

Credit applications can’t be denied because of your debt counselling history. According to Olivier once you have been issued a Clearance Certificate that has also been processed by the creditors as well as the credit bureaus, you can apply for home loans, vehicle finance and other credit related applications.

Debt counselling as a solution to over indebtedness has a rehabilitative spirit. The aim is to get the client credit active again, but, in a responsible way. Many clients who went through the debt counselling process applied for credit with great success.

If a credit provider denies access to credit, a client has the right to a full explanation of why the credit is being denied. From there on appropriate measures can be taken. 

5. Losing one’s assets

Through provisions in the National Credit Act, debt counselling offers protection for your assets, says Olivier. The debt counselling process has been specifically designed to allow clients to repay their debt, home loans and vehicle financing, without losing their assets.

Your car for example, cannot be repossessed by credit providers whilst you are under debt counselling.

Once you enter the debt counselling process all credit providers are prohibited from taking further action against you on the accounts that are included in the debt counselling program. Take Mr Geldenhuys for example: “… my debt counsellor prevented that I lose any assets (sic).”

Your car for example, cannot be repossessed by credit providers while you are under debt counselling. The only way that credit providers are allowed to take your vehicle is if you sign a letter in which you voluntarily surrender the vehicle, or if they can present you with a legitimate court order of the high court. These are the only ways through which your asset/s can be taken away.

6. Easy come, easy go

A debt-free client admits: “In the beginning it was hard but then it became easier.” Managing debt is not as easy as one-two-three, but with the assistance of a debt counsellor, clients are given room to breathe as an approved debt counselling program is implemented on their behalf. This enables consumers to pay off their debt in one affordable payment each month. Clients therefore should be committed to bite the short-term bullet to be debt-free in the long run.  

Managing your debt is not the easiest or fastest process, but if you find yourself in an unavoidable over-indebted position, debt counsellors are there to assist you and also point you in the right direction – a debt-free life.

Contact DebtSafe’s friendly advisors to help you with their effective debt review program. “After paying off debt with DebtSafe’s more than able members of staff, I am now debt free.  I would recommend DebtSafe to any one that needs professional assistance” – a former client and now debt-free consumer.