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Debt collection ‘bullies’ must clean up their act

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Debt collection ‘bullies’ must clean up their act

Debt collection ‘bullies’ must urgently review and modify their methods following the landmark Constitutional Court decision affirming a consumers right to proper notification before credit providers can seize assets.

This call went out today by theDCI, the Internet portal of The Debt Counselling Industry.

As a registered debt counsellor, the industry portal and associated debt counsellors are stepping up consumer education on these issues as the ruling confirms that a consumer is not a criminal whose home and possessions are forfeit to aggressive credit providers and their collection army.

Credit providers must now realise that bullying tactics are no longer acceptable. They must review debt collection practices and ensure their agents respect the rights of consumers and follow due process as set out by the Constitutional Court.

In the past, some credit providers have countenanced practices showing scant regard for the rights of others. Following this ruling, a continuation of these methods will lead to huge reputational damage. I call on these credit providers to make a fresh start by scrupulously respecting procedure.

In early June, the Constitutional Court ruled that simply dispatching a notice to a consumer in the hope it will be received is insufficient. Before a summons can be issued, steps must be taken to ensure the demand is received; for instance, by sending registered mail to the correct current address rather than the ‘domicilium’ (often outdated) given on a contract.

The ruling on these Section 129 notices extends beyond procedural issues, said Solomon. The notice also alerts recipients to a key form of recourse – the opportunity to seek the assistance of a debt counsellor and work on a payment plan to clear the debt.

A section 129 notice is not simply one more way of hounding the consumer. It can also signpost a way out the debt trap. Legal opinion supports this interpretation.

Access to vital information like this is the consumer’s right.

She said the court decision supported the consumer protection intentions of the .

I salute the court for its stance as it makes it more difficult for bullish credit providers to ignore the NCR’s intentions by bulldozing their way through the legal enforcement process.

Personal experience of hundreds of cases suggests many credit providers are happy to exploit consumer ignorance and use enforcement methods that seem legally compliant when they are not.

A big consumer education effort is now required to ensure the court’s decision has the desired effect.

Last modified on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 09:27
Deborah Solomon

Deborah Solomon

Deborah Solomon, founder of theDCI - the new Debt Counselling Industry portal - is a communication and information platform that aims to help, support and empower the major players within the debt counselling industry and consumers in need of financial assistance. The DCI’s intention is to empower consumers into making better informed decisions about their own financial well-being. One key element is to complete the “I need help” questionnaire, which assesses your current financial status and gives you options of how to proceed.


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