Consumer Advice

Congratulations! You have decided to take control of your credit worthiness by requesting a copy of your credit report, but what does it mean? What if it’s inaccurate? Don’t panic. Experian will walk you through it.

The Report Explained

Your credit report largely affects your purchasing abilities, but chances are you have never seen it. Experian gives you the opportunity to view your report as frequently as you choose, and by clicking the above link, you can find out what it all means. Click here to order your credit report

Querying your Report

What if something on your report is inaccurate? What if you disagree with the information the report provides? Experian can help you ensure that your credit report creates an accurate picture of your credit activities. Please contact our call centre on 0861 10 56 65 or email consumer@creditexpert.co.za

Improving Your Credit Rating

Now that you understand the importance of your credit report, you may want to take steps to improve it. Find out why you may have been turned down for credit and what you can do to increase your chances on your next credit application.

Protecting Your Credit Rating

Impersonation fraud occurs when someone uses your name and ID to obtain credit that they never intend to repay. Monitoring your credit report with Experian can protect you from becoming a victim of fraud. Click here to subscribe to Experian’s credit monitoring service

National Credit Act

The National Credit Act (NCA) regulates the South African credit industry by preventing discriminatory credit practices, protecting consumer rights and minimising consumer over-indebtedness. The Act came into effect on 1 June 2006. Click here to request your free online Experian credit report.

Frequently Asked Questions
Glossary
The Report Explained

VIEW A SAMPLE REPORT

1. Credit Risk Rating

The Credit Risk Rating has been developed by Experian, exclusively for Experian’s credit reports, and is based entirely on your credit history. The rating system gives you an idea of how your credit history may influence the outcome of your application for credit.

The Credit Risk Rating system works on a scale from 1 to 5. A rating of 1 or 2 suggests that you will most likely find it easier to borrow money or purchase goods on credit, while a rating of 4 or 5 indicates that you may find it difficult to access credit. The Experian Credit Risk Rating system is only a guide; it is not a guarantee that a consumer will or will not be granted credit.


Why does my rating reflect “Good account conduct” (a ‘2') and not “Very good account conduct” (a ‘1')?

Possible reasons include:
  • Accounts showing a history of late payments
  • An account with recently late payments
  • A short credit history
  • A recent increase in credit activity
  • High-risk account types (micro-loans)
Why have I received a “Poor” (‘4' or ‘5”) rating and not a ‘Good' (‘1' or ‘2') rating?

Possible reasons include:
  • Judgements
  • Default listings
  • Collections records
  • Significant arrears
  • A high number of high-risk accounts (micro-loans)
  • Delinquency on a recently opened account
What does a ‘3' rating mean, “account conduct neither good nor poor”? Surely my credit profile is either good or poor?

Some of your accounts may be in arrears but others are up to date, or perhaps you have opened your first account fairly recently. A ‘3’ rating means that your credit report does not give a clear indication as to whether or not you will be granted credit. In this case, the information you provide on the credit application, as well as the lender's credit policy, will play a strong role in determining whether your credit request will be accepted or declined.


Does the fact that my rating is ‘1' or ‘2' mean that I will always qualify for credit from any institution? How will this rating influence my ability to obtain credit in future?

The Credit Risk Rating is not a guarantee that you will be granted credit by a lending institution. The Risk Rating is merely an indication of your risk status based on the information held by Experian. The granting of credit is made at the sole discretion of the lender.


Does a rating of ‘0' mean that my account conduct is poor or bad?

A rating of ‘0' simply means that Experian did not have enough information to make an assessment of your risk status and provide a Credit Risk Rating. This is neither a positive or negative reflection on your risk status. A ‘0' will normally be allocated if you do not have a credit profile with us.


What do I have to do to improve my Credit Risk Rating?

To find out how to increase your credit rating, click here


I have paid all my arrears account up in full to improve my risk status. Why has my Risk Rating remained unchanged?

Once your accounts have been paid up and are up-to-date, it may take a couple of months for the lender(s) to submit new information to Experian. Once Experian has updated or corrected any information related to your credit profile, this update will immediately affect your Credit Risk Rating.


2. ID Verification

Experian works closely with the department of Home Affairs to help lenders confirm your identity and to prevent identity fraud occurring on your name.

ID Verification checks that the ID number that you have supplied on application matches your name. An ID number is considered to be verified if 1) it has been checked and validated by Home Affairs, and 2) the ID number exists on the Experian database.

If the ID number and name do not match the ID number and name on Experian’s records, the ID is unverified. The ID number will also register unverified if it does not appear on the Experian database.


What can I do if my ID number has not been loaded to the Experian database?

Your ID number will be sent to Home Affairs who will validate the ID number and return this confirmation to Experian. Once your ID number is properly verified it will be loaded onto Experian’s database.

If your ID number is not loaded to the Experian database within two weeks, please call the Experian Consumer Relations Division on 0861 10 5665 or email consumer@creditexpert.co.za. You will be asked to provide the relevant documentation so they can assist you in loading your details onto the database.


3. Detect

The Detect field is used to alert lenders to possible fraud. Detect is used as protection for both you and the credit lender against application, impersonation and syndicate fraud. Detect checks the information supplied by you on the application against the information on Experian’s database.

The Detect block will show the word “CLEAR” if there is nothing suspicious with your application. If Detect has found something that does not match, the word “WARNING” will show. If a Detect “WARNING” shows, then you should go to the end of the credit report to see the details about the Detect warning.


ID Warnings

If the warning “ID unverified” appears, check that you have given your correct ID number. If the warning persists then call the Experian Consumer Relations Division on 0861 10 5665. If the Detect warning is incorrect because the wrong data has been matched to your name, you must call the Experian consumer Relations Division to notify them of the mistake.

For “ID Deceased” and “ID emigrated” warnings you should follow the same procedure as above.


Other Warnings

‘More than 3 enquiries in the last 7 days’ can be remedied by waiting a week before applying for credit again.

If you have not paid the first 3 instalments of an account you need to settle this matter with your credit lender.


4. Account Information

The lender of a credit account provides Experian with information about the way you repay your account every month. If you keep your account up to date, future lenders will see that you repay your debts responsibly and will be more likely to offer you credit in the future. If you have not repaid your debts in a timely manner, the lender will be less likely to offer you credit in the future.

Positive account information will remain on your record for three years. However if your account is overdue and the credit provider has written off the account, or handed over to legal or collections – the account will remain for two years on your credit report.


5. Enquiry Information

Each time a lender searches the Experian database, a ‘footprint’ of the search is recorded. The footprint will contain the date of the enquiry and the name of the company who conducted it. This record of searches forms part of the information seen by lenders.
The enquiry record allows lenders to identify ‘abnormal activity’ such as a large number of applications for credit made by the same person in a short space of time. A high number of enquiries in a short time period could mean that the applicant is applying for credit that they cannot afford, or someone could be attempting to commit fraud.

Enquiry information will remain on your record for two years.


6. Judgement Information

A judgement is granted by a court against a consumer who has not repaid his/her debt to a lender. A judgement is public information and lenders can use this information when deciding to grant credit or not. A judgement remains valid at the credit bureau for five years unless a court of law rescinds the judgement before this time.

Even if there are judgements against you, this does not necessarily mean you will be unable to get credit. If you can show the bank (or other institution) that you have paid the debts in full and if your financial position has satisfactorily improved, they might grant you credit.

Note: Experian does NOT keep criminal records. Only civil financial judgements will be recorded by Experian.


What can I do if I have a judgment?
  • You are entitled to apply for a removal of the judgement if you can prove that when the judgement was granted against you, you were not intentionally in contempt of court or absent from the court and that you had a legitimate defence against the action instituted against you
  • You are entitled to apply for a removal of the judgement if you have paid the plaintiff in full and the plaintiff consents to the removal
  • You and the plaintiff can agree to abandon the judgement. Notice of the abandonment may be filed in the court record, but this will not have the effect of deleting the judgement from the Experian database
  • Judgements are deleted from Experian records automatically after the lapse of five years
What can I do if a judgement has been incorrectly matched to my name?

If you believe that the information on your Experian credit report is incorrect, you can contact the Experian Consumer Relations Division on 0861 10 56 65 or email consumer@creditexpert.co.za

  • A consultant will assist you to have the judgement removed by contacting the court and checking the court records and details of the court case
  • An incorrectly matched judgement will be removed from your record immediately
  • Experian will notify both you and the credit lender where you applied for credit, of the correction

7. Notice Information

Notice information includes statutory judgements i.e. a Sequestration or Administration Order. These are issued when a consumer cannot pay or administer his/her debts. A consumer that has been sequestrated may be rehabilitated. Similarly, a person under Administration can pay up his/ her debts and the Administration Order is then rescinded.

Sequestrations will remain on record for ten years unless the consumer is rehabilitated. The sequestration is removed and the rehabilitation notice will remain for a further five years thereafter. Administration Orders are recorded for 10 years unless rescinded in which case the Administration Order is removed.


8. Collection Information

If you default on your credit repayments, it is sometimes more economical for a credit grantor to hand the debt to an agency that specialises in collecting bad debts, than try to collect themselves. In return, a percentage of the debt recovered will be paid to the agency. A number of collection companies will notify Experian of their intention to collect from a consumer and the result of the collection.

A collection record will remain on your credit report for 2 years.


What can I do if the listing is incorrect?

If you believe that the information on your Experian credit report is incorrect, please contact the Experian Consumer Relations Division on 0861 10 56 65 or email consumer@creditexpert.co.za


9. Default Information

Credit providers will inform Experian if you have fallen behind in your payments. There are two types of default information

  • Based on consumer behaviour such as ‘slow payer’, ‘account misconduct’
  • Based on enforcement action such as ‘write-off’, ‘repossession’, ‘legal’

Behavioural default data is recorded for one year and enforcement default data for two years.


If I have a Default on my credit record what should I do?

In the case of a default, you should approach the lender to whom you owe the money and offer to repay the outstanding amount. When the debt is repaid, request that the lender notify Experian to amend the account as paid in full.

Experian will mark your account as paid in full and this information will be available to future credit lenders.


What can I do if the listing is incorrect?

If you believe that the information on your Experian credit report is incorrect, please contact the Experian Consumer Relations Division on 0861 10 56 65 or email consumer@creditexpert.co.za


10. Telephone/Address Information

You provide your telephone numbers and address each time you fill out an application for credit. Experian keeps a list of your telephone numbers and addresses and the dates that they were recorded; the most recent information will be on your credit report. If there is a change in your contact information, notify Experian to ensure the information you provide on an application will match the Experian database.


11. Employment Information

The employer information is only shown if it was given by you on a previous application for credit. The information shows the name of the company you worked for and the position you held. This information is used to confirm the employment information given on the application.


Querying Your Report

It is important that you monitor your credit report and ensure the information is accurate. If you believe that the information is incorrect, Experian can help.

1. What can I do if I want to challenge the information on my credit report?

If you believe that the information on your Experian credit report is incorrect, you should:

  • Gather all the necessary evidence before contacting Experian
  • Contact Experian Consumer Relations Division on 0861 10 56 65 or email consumer@creditexpert.co.za
  • Experian will investigate the dispute and respond within 20 business days. If you apply for credit during this time, credit providers will see that there is a dispute on your record but will not be able to view the disputed information during the investigation period
  • Should the information prove to be incorrect or unsubstantiated it will be removed

If you are not satisfied with the resolution of your query, you may contact the office of the Credit Ombud (CO) on 0861 662 837.

If you are still not satisfied, you may contact the National Credit Regulator on 0860 627 627 or email complaints@ncr.org.za


2. Who is the Credit Ombud?

The Credit Ombud (CO) is an independent and impartial body that resolves complaints from consumers and businesses that are negatively impacted by credit information.

To find out more about the CO please visit their website at: www.creditombud.org.za


3. Who is the National Credit Regulator?

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) was established by the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (the Act) and is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. It is tasked with credit education, research, policy development, registration of industry participants, investigation of complaints and ensuring enforcement of the National Credit Act.

The NCR is also tasked with the registration of credit providers, credit bureaux and debt counsellors, and enforcement of compliance with the Act.

To find out more about the NCR please visit their web site at: www.ncr.org.za


Improving Your Credit Rating

Hopefully, seeing your credit report has given you more confidence in your ability to obtain credit. But what if the report shows that you have had some trouble paying your accounts? What can you do to change the information on your credit report? How can you improve your credit report?

1. How can I improve my credit report?
  • Pay your accounts on time every month
  • Pay the full instalment owed each month
  • If you are unable to make a payment due to unforeseen circumstances, talk to the company concerned and make alternative arrangements to pay back what you owe
  • Never buy on credit without knowing if you can afford the repayments
  • Try to keep credit repayments between 20% and 30% of your income. If you earn R5000 per month, keep your credit obligations between R1 000 and R1 500 per month
  • Stay informed about your personal credit information. Obtain a copy of your creditreport at least once a year
  • Never lie on an application for credit
  • Never ignore a letter of demand for payment. Make a phone call or write a letter to explain your situation
  • Never ignore a summons to court for non-payment. This could have a serious reflection on your credit report
2. Why have I been turned down for credit?

Only the credit provider with whom you have made the application can tell you why your application was declined. The credit provider must provide written reasons as to why an application was not successful.

Credit grantors set their own credit assessment regulations and these will differ from lender to lender. In addition to the credit report, they also use information supplied by the applicant regarding employment details, number of years at current residence, if the applicant owns a home, number of dependants, etc. These details are not on the credit report.


3. If one company has turned me down for credit will others do the same?

Not necessarily. Companies take different factors into account when deciding to grant credit. One company may decline your application, but another company may accept. If you are turned down as a result of credit bureau information, contact Experian to obtain advice on what action to take. Request a copy of your report before you make further applications. Click here to request a copy of your credit report.


4. What do I do if I am told that there is an ‘issue' with my credit bureau report?

Possible ‘issues’ include:

  • Late payments on current accounts
  • Defaults listed against you due to non payment of debt
  • Collection company listings due to non payment of debt
  • Judgements that have been granted through a court, normally as a result of non payment of debt

Contact Experian to obtain advice regarding the consequences of the above issues. It may not be possible to have the information removed, but Experian’s Consumer Relations Staff will be able to advise you on how to rectify or potentially overcome any issues related to your credit report


5. Do I need to contact a lawyer to query information on my credit report?

No. Experian's Consumer Relations staff has all the relevant knowledge and skills to assist you in resolving queries on your credit report.

If you believe that the information on your Experian credit report is incorrect, contact the Experian Consumer Relations Division on 0861 10 56 65. Our help-desk staff can also advise how to better manage your credit report in future.


Protecting Your Credit Rating

More than 80 000 South Africans apply for credit every day. With so many people utilising credit, the risk of fraud has increased dramatically.

By monitoring your credit report with Experian, you will know immediately if abnormal activity has occurred. For example, if a lender has requested your credit report without your permission someone may be using your ID number to illegally obtain credit. When they do not repay the debt, it could negatively impact your credit report and you could be burdened with the debt.

1. When am I at risk of ID Fraud?

Research conducted by Experian has indicated that consumers are most at risk when:

  • Moving house: When you move, ensure that you change your address with the lenders and organisations that you deal with by mail
  • Answering the phone: Do not disclose identity information to callers unless you can confirm that the request is genuine
  • Disposing of rubbish: Destroy all confidential documents that include your credit card details, ID number, etc.
  • Using the Internet: Only enter personal information, including credit card and debit cards details, into websites that you trust and are secure
2. What can I do if I discover that identity fraud has occurred on my name?

If you discover identity fraud, it’s important to act quickly.

  • Report it to the police and get a Case/Incident Report No.
  • Report lost or stolen cards or documents to the issuing organisations
  • Consider a Protective Registration with South African Fraud Prevention Services at www.safps.org.za. This service will alert most lenders to the fraud, so they will take extra care when dealing with credit applications in your name
  • Get a copy of your credit report to check for unknown credit applications and accounts
  • If you find fraudulent information on your Experian credit report, please contact Experian’s Consumer Relations on 0861 105 665
3. What can I do to keep my credit report safe?
  • Check you credit report regularly. Experian provides consumers with a free credit report once a year. To request your free credit report click here or contact Experian’s Consumer Relations on 0861 105 665
  • Experian also offers a monitoring service that gives you access to your personal credit information and alerts you to changes on your credit profile. The credit profile monitoring service will send you an e-mail and or SMS when important changes have taken place on your credit report. To register for this premium service click here
The National Credit Act

The NCA regulates credit bureaux and credit information by:

  • Setting standards for credit information quality
  • Defining the type of information that may be held by a credit bureau and the sources from which it may be obtained
  • Stipulating consumer rights with respect to their personal credit information

Experian South Africa is a registered credit bureau (NCRCB3) with the National Credit Regulator and fully supports the National Credit Act.

1. What are my rights

One free credit report a year

You have the right to obtain a free credit report, once a year. If you request any further copies of your credit report a nominal cost of R21.00 per month will be charged.

To request your free credit report click here


The right to challenge credit information

The NCA has prescribed a process for managing consumer disputes with the credit bureau. If you believe that the information on your Experian credit report is incorrect, please contact the Experian Consumer Relations Division on 0861 10 56 65.


Confidentiality

You have the right to have your credit report kept confidential. Consumer credit information may only be used for the purposes allowed by the NCA.

These purposes include:

  • An affordability assessment to determine whether or not you can afford the credit or service that you have applied for
  • An investigation of fraud, theft or corruption
  • An employment assessment for a position that requires trust and entails the managing of cash and finances
Notification of listing

A consumer will receive 20 business days notice before a credit provider submits ‘poor payer’ information to a credit bureau. During this period consumers must notify the credit provider or credit bureau if this information is incorrect.



2. How long does information remain on my credit report?

The Act requires that essential credit information be kept on your report for a set time period. As of 1 December 2006, credit information will be held for the following periods:



Category of Consumer Credit information Maximum period on the credit bureau
Details and results of disputes lodged by consumers 18 months
Credit enquiries 2 years
Payment Profile 5 years
Adverse classifications of consumer behaviour (e.g. Default, Slow payer, Cheque account misconduct) 1 years
Adverse classifications of enforcement action (e.g. Handed over; Write-off; Repossession) 2 years
Debt Restructuring Until a clearance certificate is issued
Civil Court Judgments The earlier of 5 years or until the judgment is rescinded by a court or abandoned by the credit provider.
Administration Orders The earlier of 10 years or until order is rescinded by a court
Sequestrations The earlier of 10 years or until rehabilitation order is granted
Liquidations Unlimited period
Rehabilitation Orders 5 years
Other information e.g. Collections 2 years


4. Who is the National Credit Regulator?


The National Credit Regulator (NCR) was established by the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (the Act) and is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. It is tasked with credit education, research, policy development, registration of industry participants, investigation of complaints and ensuring enforcement of the Act.

The NCR is also tasked with the registration of credit providers, credit bureaux and debt counsellors; and enforcement of compliance with the Act.

To find out more about the NCR please visit their web site on www.ncr.org.za



Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I care about my credit report?

Understanding your credit report takes the anxiety out of applying for credit. If your credit report reflects that you maintain your accounts responsibly, you may be able to negotiate better interest rates. If your credit report indicates that you have had some trouble paying your accounts, you can then take the appropriate steps to improve your credit score. By checking your credit report frequently, you will also know if anyone has used your ID number to fraudulently open an account



How do I maintain a healthy credit rating?

  • Pay your accounts on time every month
  • Pay the full instalment owed each month
  • If you are unable to make a payment due to unforeseen circumstances, talk to the company concerned and make alternative arrangements to pay back what you owe
  • Never buy on credit without knowing if you can afford the repayments
  • Try to keep credit repayments between 20% and 30% of your income. If you earn R5 000 per month, keep your credit obligations between R1 000 and R1 500 per month
  • Stay informed about your personal credit information. Obtain a copy of your credit report at least once a year
  • Never lie on an application for credit
  • Never ignore a letter of demand for payment. Make a phone call or write a letter to explain your situation
  • Never ignore a summons to court for non-payment. This could have a serious reflection on your credit report

How does Experian get information about me?

Account information is supplied to Experian by members of the Consumer Providers Association (CCA), primarily retail stores, banks, telecommunications and finance companies. Experian also receives information from the National Loans Register (NLR). The NLR maintains the application details and repayment history of loans granted by micro-lenders registered with the Microfinance Regulatory Council (MFRC).

Judgements are public information and lodged with Experian by the courts.

Experian also receives the information you provide on an application for credit regarding contact details and employment status.



What about my right to privacy?

When you fill out and sign an application for credit, you are granting your consent for that lender to pass along your information to Experian.



I checked my report with Experian yesterday and my name is clear. I was sent an update today and find that I have negative information against me. Why?

There are two reasons why this could happen.

First, new data is loaded to the database on a daily basis. Any data that was not there yesterday could therefore appear today. In addtion, the status of your account could change. The effect of the status code change could be the difference between a negative and postive listing.



Glossary

Credit – a loan of money, goods or services based on a lender’s confidence in a consumer’s ability and intention to pay


Credit Report - a record of a consumer’s credit history; a detailed listing of current and past accounts, the frequency of payments, and any consequences suffered for non payment of accounts


Credit History – how a consumer has maintained past and present accounts


Credit lender or Credit grantor or Lending institution – any organisation offering money, goods or services on credit such as banks, retailers, utility providers, car dealers, etc.


Credit bureau – a company that gathers credit information and provides it to lenders in the form of a credit report. A credit bureau supplies the report whenever a consumer applies for credit, so that the lender may make a responsible decision when granting credit.


Default – account status indicating the lender has not received payment for three or more months


Poor payer or Slow payer – a lender may report consumers who fail to repay debts in a timely manner as ‘poor payers’ or ‘slow payers’


Judgement – a court order to a consumer that he or she must repay a debt to a lender


Detect – the detect field on the credit report flags the lender if the consumer has applied for credit more than three times in a seven day period, if any account has not been paid for three months or more, or if the information supplied by the applicant does not match information held by the credit bureau


Enquiry – a request from a credit lender to view a consumer’s credit report