RD Debt Counselling is a professional and reliable debt counselling firm in Benoni, Gauteng. We help you become debt free in the shortest possible time.

Experian data breach – What should you do RD Debt Counselling deb counsellors in Johannesburg

Experian data breach – What should you do to keep your information safe

About 4 months ago Experian gave data to someone who was not authorised to receive it.

This included the information of 24 million South African personally and about 800 000 businesses.

It took Experian about 2 months to discover the mistake. Once they discovered the mistake, the business said that it wasn’t too much of a risk, as most of the information like ID numbers addresses, work info, telephone numbers and home address etc. could easily be obtained in the market.  Even the banks were not too worried.

That was a few weeks ago.

Now it appears that 24 000 bank account details of businesses were in the data, and to make us all more worried, Pansy Tlakula, Chairperson of the Information Regulator says they are investigating if more bank account details have been compromised.

The information has been confirmed to have left the country as it was transferred on a Swiss data transfer site by a “Russian person”.

The Sunday Times reported that this could affect up to 90% of the adult working population.

What to do about the Experian data breach

For your own safety

Change all your passwords. Not only your banking log-ins, but social media passwords as well as many of them are used to log into e-commerce websites.  There have been a number of reports of people receiving SMS’s from retailers about opening new accounts.

Never give:

  • bank account numbers
  • Online Banking username and/or password
  • One Time PIN (OTP) to anyone.

If you think you have been compromised

  • If you get strange phone calls, WhatsApp messages, emails, from people wanting information, BEWARE! These guys have half the info and they hope to get the rest.
  • I have had a couple of warnings this week on sites that are secure, to change my passwords as a database has been compromised
  • Get your free credit report check credit enquiries on your credit report and see if there are any you don’t recognise
  • Contact the bank immediately if you suspect your bank accounts or cards have been compromised. Banks have fraud hotlines.

If you are even one bit unsure, don’t give any info over the phone. Rather ask them to send you an email. Once they email you, you will have a phone number to phone and you can check on them.

Make sure you change all your passwords regularly in case another data breach happens.

If you aren’t sure about an email, just delete it. If it was very important, they will send it again.

This is not a one-time thing. Data on people is worth a lot of money, so protect yourself before it’s too late.

Bank payment holiday is over – what can you do now if you still aren’t receiving a full salary?

Bank payment holiday is over – what can you do now if you still aren’t receiving a full salary?

The bank says your payment holiday is over and that there are no more extensions. But… Your income is NOT back to normal. Which means you cannot pay everything!!! What do you do now that the bank payment holiday is over?

The banks are not back to normal, yet

Firstly, the banks are not back to “normal”.  They have a lot of people working from home, bad and slow connections to the huge banking computer systems and the resultant authentication problems.  Add to that tens of thousands of extra queries and you have a recipe for mistakes and oversights.

Make sure your bank has heard you, before you make any decisions.  Make sure they have received your communication.  They might have replied, but you didn’t get it.  They might have asked for previous payslips vs current payslips, send those to them when you justify a further extension.

The banks in general are taking a tougher position right now.  If they are not ignoring you and also not accommodating you, then you need to do something.

You need someone who knows how to work with the bank’s head office to help you.

At RD Debt Counselling, we have a number of clients in this position who have applied for debt review.  The banks are talking to us, albeit rather slowly, but we are getting payment plans worked out, and many people are managing on a reduced income if they are paying out less on their debt.

Advantages of Debt Review in this situation

  • You don’t have to catch up the arrears, these are worked into the repayment plan
  • You get a fixed interest rate – we generally get greatly reduced interest rates
  • Your monthly debt re-payment is reduced
  • As your income returns to normal, you can increase your payment and finish your debt review in a shorter time.
  • You are legally protected by a court order – if you pay your agreed, reduced amount every month, they cannot touch you.
  • Because of the reduced payment, you get some financial breathing space until your income returns to normal.
  • Once you have finished paying, your credit record returns to normal and you can replace cars and open new accounts (if you want to😊)

Disadvantages of debt review in this situation

  • You need to pay off all your debt (except your home loan) before you can exit debt review
  • If you agree to an amount that you can’t afford, and miss payments, then you are back where you started, and the banks can then take legal action.
  • The court order payment is not a negotiable or variable amount, it is exceedingly difficult to change the court order monthly payment once granted.
  • You cannot open any new accounts while in debt review

After carefully looking at the advantages and disadvantages of debt review, if you think debt counselling is the right option for you, then have a frank discussion with a registered, experienced debt counsellor.  Highlight all your fears, worries and ideas.

If you believe that the process and the person (Debt Counsellor) will work for you, then apply. Debt Counselling is a particularly good process for the right people. Contact us for a FREE debt review today.

Debt Counselling and the Covid-19 pandemic

Debt Counselling and the Covid-19 pandemic

Debt Counsellors are going to be playing a very important role in stabilising the fallout from the pandemic.

Those currently in Debt Counselling

Large financial institutions do not have the time or staff to deal with every case at an individual level, they make blanket policies which they then apply.  This is not ideal for the average person who has had a horrible financial shock.  To then be treated as a bank account number and struggle to get heard is even more stressful, after all, this is your financial future.

This is where Debt Counsellors come in.  Through the process the financial institutions are forced to listen, and if they still will not listen, then the courts will listen, that is their function.  They will decide who is correct and the courts are expected to be very lenient on people who have not used the situation to duck and dive, but have made payments where possible, and have documentation to prove loss of income, have budgets to show their living expenses and have communicated with their creditors through their Debt Counsellors during this time.

Should I apply for Debt Counselling now?

If you have had confirmation that your financial circumstances have changed, and you will not be able to fully pay all your debt going forward, then debt counselling can work for you.

If you were struggling to pay your debt before the pandemic, and now the situation is worse, then debt counselling can help you.

If you are looking for quick, temporary fix, then debt counselling is not for you.  A Debt Counsellor will work out a new reduced payment plan, which will pay back the debt in a reasonable period, and all debt except your home loan has to be paid back before you are removed from debt counselling.

The Debt Counselling (Debt review) process is a very good process for the right people and many, many people are back on their financial feet as a result.

It is also wise to talk to as many people as possible before you take the step, this will give you opinions from “keep away” to “best thing I ever did”.  Talk to debt counsellors and other experts as well, and decide if it is right for you.

We will happily discuss your situation and give advice.

How to keep your family safe during lockdown level 3

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all need to do everything we can to keep our families safe. Aside from following the Government guidelines to protect your family, what are some of the other measures that we can all take?

It’s important to understand that even when people appear not to have symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), they may still be carrying the virus.

how to keep your family safe during lockdown level 3

  • Pre-plan your activities. If you are leaving the safety of your home, know where you are going, plan your route and your time, look for times when less people are out to do shopping.
  • Work from home if you can. With the proper equipment and adjustments, many people can do most of their work from home. Speak to your employer if necessary.  Not all jobs can be done from home.
  • Avoid being face-to-face with people if they are not from your household
  • Avoid crowds
  • If you have to travel (for example, to work or school), think about how and when you travel
  • If you have to use public transport, you should try to avoid peak times.

Stay at home and stay safe

Whatsapp: Say “Hi” to 0600 123 456. For medical enquiries: National Institute for Communicable Diseases 0800 029 999.

Positive things we can take from the Covid-19 pandemic

Many who were planning their marketing strategies a few months ago, are looking with horror at what is left of their business’ today.

Many sectors have been completely flattened and will never return to what they were a few months ago.

Change is inevitable.  Dramatic change is a shock.

The Coronavirus has forced us to have a very hard introspective look at the world and our role in it.

Are we going to change and move forward, or constantly try to recreate what we had and be dissatisfied with anything different?

The world has been hit by similar viruses in the past, MERS and SARS were also from the same Coronavirus family as Covid-19 but were comparatively contained.

The New England Journal of medicine reported that Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), were spread much less efficiently and only by symptomatic people.

In fact, Covid-19 has already caused 10 times as many cases as SARS in a quarter of the time.

This is not new to the world, in 1918 about 50 million people died from Spanish Flu.

We, as South Africans, are faced with a choice of trying to manage the infection over time, allowing our health care system to cope, and getting our economy rolling again despite lockdowns and restrictions.

To spend billions of Rands on fighting the pandemic may seem to be a waste of money. But look at the economic pain caused by the virus already, travel, supply chains, oil prices, stock markets and a plethora of others have been disrupted.  If these billions are effective, it will be worth it.

Our natural instincts want everything to return to “normal”, the way things were before and which we believe we understand.

But, do we really want to go back to that?

Cities have become more and more gridlocked, it takes longer and longer to travel anywhere, pollution is increasing to unsustainable levels, our healthcare is at best ineffective, and our schools and tertiary institutions can operate more effectively.

The World Health organisation is already predicting much longer periods than any of us envisaged initially, we could remain in this social distancing, contact avoiding state for a few years to come, so this is the ideal time to make the changes.

  • It is cheaper to work from home, not only on the budget, but for the environment. Think of the advantages for childcare and child nurturing, it’s flexible, and in many cases equally or more effective, this will not suite the office networking expert, so it is something for everyone.  More teleworking will reduce pressure on our road and office infrastructure, be cheaper for both parties’ long term, and produce less pollutants.  The worlds cities had the cleanest air for decades during lockdown.  Future development must include clean technologies.
  • This is where part of socialism is probably right. There are some basic needs which not only help individuals, but society in general.  Healthcare systems need to be upgraded and available to all, and community medicine needs to be practised to deal with medical problems at the source and before they get too serious, this will also act as an early warning system.
  • Housing with enough space to grow our own basic fruit and vegetables, this will also improve food security. We need to move away from our constant increasing urbanisation and find ways to work and thrive away from major centres.
  • Connectivity which covers the entire country at acceptable speeds will allow people to largely remain at home and still work effectively and remove the overcrowded, unhealthy state of housing for many south Africans
  • A basic, unconditional income for everyone will assist the disadvantaged, and decrease the level of crime, malnutrition and desperation which is experienced at present. This is an advantage to society as much as for the individual.
  • Use local produce and services as much as possible. It keeps local money local and if you buy local products, you reduce the need for products to be transported which helps the environment and encourages entrepreneurs to remain locally and not move to the city
  • Schools and education systems have hardly been changed for hundreds of years; we all know that parrot fashion learning helps very few in the real world. Going to school every day for a fixed time is outdated, expensive and inefficient, especially when half the class is forced to be there and learns comparatively little.  A system of research based education, with the majority done remotely and certain assessments and progress checking done face to face would remove the need to go to an educational institution every day, it will teach children discipline, how to be self-starters and follow the type of education which interests and motivates them.

This all needs to take place with as little party political and business influence and interference as possible, to make it cheap and unaffected by elections, campaigning and profiteering.  These are but a few of changes that could be made to make our world, the only place where we live…  Better.

Why not take advantage now?

Stay home, be safe!

How to budget for South Africa's lockdown

How to budget for South Africa’s lockdown

We have entered a period unprecedented in our history in terms of the scale and the effect it is going to have on our world.

How we all react is going to determine our future as people.

An extract of what Bill Gates said in a long mail: “[I]t is reminding us how materialistic our society has become and how, when in times of difficulty, we remember that it is the essentials that we need (food, water, medicine) as opposed to the luxuries that we sometimes unnecessarily give value to”

There are also many practical things that we need to do.

We discuss a lockdown budget template in this blog post.  If you want an Excel version, contact us and we will mail it to you.

Lockdown budget

It is vital to do some financial planning for the lockdown period.  The best is to do a budget, with all your income and expenses.

I am aware and have spoken to a number of clients who are not sure how, or if, or when, they will be paid.  This makes budgeting very difficult.

We understand the difficult position businesses find themselves in.

We, however, appeal to all business owners to do your own lockdown business budget and try to give your staff a minimum guaranteed amount that you will pay as salary, and if events improve, then it could be more.

Assume you are getting a certain amount, then take off all your expenses.

Remember that things like petrol won’t be used much for 21 days, so adjust your budget and stick to it, particularly if you aren’t sure of your next income.

READ MORE: HOW TO SET UP A BUDGET

What should I pay while on lockdown?

In these tough times, I always say look after number one first, otherwise number one can’t look after anyone else.

Look after yourself and your family.

In the spirit of national survival, if you have extra, share with others, if you are an employer, support your employees.

Look after number one first – If you are getting a full salary, then pay all your accounts as per normal.

Maya Fischer French on Moneytalk on eNCA, made a very valid point.  Your child may not be at school, or nursery school or creche, but pay them your normal monthly amount, they are also under immense financial pressure and have staff to pay who are also on lockdown.

However, if your salary has been cut, and you have done your lockdown budget, and you can’t afford to pay your debt, your rent, your insurance and policies or part thereof, then you need to act now, and do not just ignore the problem until it bites you.

If you are not going to be able to pay anyone, then let them know.  Send a mail to the bank.  Do get a letter from work which outlines what and how they will pay you.  Get a copy of a bank statement as proof of what you got. Have recent payslips to prove what you were earning.

Stop your debit orders ahead of time so as not to incur the severe penalties for bounced debit orders.  If you can only pay some of your accounts decide which are the most important to you, for me, it’s always house then car, then the rest.

Start discussions with your landlord immediately.

Insurance and policies – contact your broker or the institution directly and find out what mechanisms they have in place.  You don’t want to suddenly find, when you claim, that you are/were not covered.

Here are some others you may also have to negotiate with:

  • vehicle tracking
  • phone accounts
  • child maintenance
  • medical aid
  • the security company
  • pool service
  • garden service.

I think that while the lockdown is in progress many mechanisms will be put in place, they all have conditions, so don’t assume you are going to get some form of subsidy.  Some of the banks have put in payment holidays for small business, investigate those.  Try to survive on your own without subsidies.  If you do qualify for an extension of periods, I don’t expect interest moratoria.

The subsidy cake is only so big, the more people that want a piece means the smaller the piece that everyone gets, so if you don’t need, don’t apply.

Should I apply for debt review while the lockdown is in progress?

  • If you are genuinely overindebted, not just short paid temporarily then yes.
  • If you are threatened by your creditors, then yes.
  • If you are just panicky in this uncertain time, then no.
  • If you have no income at all, then unfortunately, no.
  • If one partner will not be going back to work, then yes.
  • If you were behind on your debt before the crisis, then yes.
  • If you want someone to manage your debt renegotiations, then yes.
How to get clearance from debt review?

What to do if you are stuck in debt review

If you have applied for debt review and something has happened and you think you are stuck in debt review because you can’t find your debt counsellor or the debt counsellor is not helping you, here’s what happened and what you can do when you are stuck in debt review.

There are a number of ways that people can get stuck in debt review:

  1. Their debt counsellor disappears, businesses shut down all the time, and sometimes they don’t do the right thing and tell their clients
  2. Sometimes people stopped paying their debt review, they might be retrenched, and the debt counsellor withdraws. This person finds a job again and wants to carry on paying their debt, but who can advise him.

READ MORE: How to fix a bad debt review

What can you do if you want to pay your debt, but because something happened, your debt review went wrong somewhere. Now things are better and you want to pay and fix things up.

The law says that you need to pay off all your debt to get out of debt review.

There are a whole lot of companies out there who say they will get you off debt review, if they aren’t debt counsellors they are going to struggle.

What you need to do is transfer to a new debt counsellor.

At RD Debt Counselling, we do quite a lot of transfers of people who are either unhappy with their debt counsellor, or want to carry on with their debt review.

Once you have transferred, then the new debt counsellor has access to all your information and can get information from the banks, they can then give you advice on how to go ahead.

When all your debt is paid, then they can issue you with a clearance certificate, and your debt review status is removed from the credit bureau.

ALSO READ: How to get clearance from debt review?

What can you do if you aren’t in debt review, but have got things like a bad credit record, or have got judgements on your name that you need fixing because you need to buy something (like a new car)?

Every case is different. For instance with judgements, some are paid up, and people just need to have the listing on the credit bureau lifted, while for others, they have never paid a cent and they want to challenge the judgement in court, others say they know nothing about a judgement, and want to find out about it.

Can debt be written off if a person hasn’t paid for three years? How does this work?

Something we do a lot is get debt written off, and it is called the law of prescription.

What it says is that if you haven’t paid or promised to pay in the last 3 years, and the person or bank you owe hasn’t gone to court, then that debt has prescribed, and can get written off.

It’s a strange twist, but I believe that it was easier to write the law of prescription, than it is to get a letter from the financier agreeing to write off the money, we do still get a lot of debt written off.

The creditor may then never claim on that debt and it is taken off the credit bureau.

Lay-bye instead of using your credit card

Everything you need to know about lay buy

Lay buy – what is it, should you use it and the advantages and disadvantages of using lay buy?

If you don’t have cash, what is the next cheapest way of buying something over 3 months or longer?

Obviously cash is king, and it’s the cheapest. The next best way of buying anything is lay buy.

Have you ever tried to Lay Buy?

I know the kids are hardly back at school, but soon it will be winter and they will need winter school uniform, jerseys tracksuits, and so much more.

Quite a few school uniform suppliers have a lay buy option, so it’s best to call ahead and check before you go.

READ MORE: Lay-bye instead of using your credit card

Apart from school uniforms, what other things do people buy on lay buy?

There are people who have been using lay buy for years to buy clothes and appliances like fridges and washing machines

Truworths, as an example, is busy rolling out a nationwide lay-buy programme, and they expect to add a couple of percent to their sales as a result.

We all know online retailers as the place where you use your credit card. There’s good news, a number of online retailers are allowing customers to pay off that expensive pair of jeans or the new Kenwood Mixer over a few months, using a lay-bye system.

This is following the trends in the US and Australia, and they believe it is because people are becoming more nervous about using credit cards and getting into too much debt.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of lay buy?

Disadvantages of lay-bye

  • If you change your mind you could lose a cancellation fee (1%).
  • Not all businesses are honest – make sure you hand your hard-earned cash to a reputable business.

Advantages of lay-bye

  • Interest-free – you will pay close to double if you take the same item using store credit. Even a credit card paid in a few instalments will attract interest and fees.
  • Pay more or less than agreed, but you have to finish in the contract period.
  • Goods are the same price as cash – in easier instalments.

There are advantages and disadvantages, but you could save money using lay buy.

How much information should you give out on social media?

With the rise of social media, things have changed. We all now have lots of online friends and it’s considered cool to have lots of friends, likes and followers.

Our only “friends” are people we don’t even know face to face. It’s estimated that we have never met or know anything about at least half of our online “friends”.

When you get a LinkedIn request to connect, from someone who sounds interesting, they might even be in the same type of business, you are likely to connect with that person without even knowing if the person you connected with is the same person in the profile pic.

While social media can be a lot of fun, you often give out information on social media without even thinking about it. You are giving out the information to a whole lot of people you don’t know and it may be shared to places that you are unaware of and have no control over.

For example, there once was this family who went on a long holiday. It was a holiday they had planned and talked about for a long time. Like many excited travelers, they shared all of their plans on social media and even shared the dates they would be travelling.

Unfortunately, while they were away, their house got broken into and they were robbed of a whole lot of house contents.

When they got back, they tried to claim from their insurance company.

But their claim was turned down by the insurance company. The reason given was that they had shared all their dates and details of their holiday which made it easy for the criminals to know when to rob them.

This might be an urban legend, but it does make one think about your personal details, and how much one should share on social media.

When you go on holiday should you post a selfie of your face and your passport? Stories like these make you think.

With so much information already out there, a quick Google search can show where you work, tell us if you have pictures of your kids on Facebook, and we can even see who your wife is.  How safe can we be online if all of this is easily available?

Your details are out there and anyone who is really trying to target you, will be able to get a lot of information. It is up to you to make it as difficult for them as possible. Don’t make them interested in you because your information is so easy to get if they are being given it on social media.

Things like ID numbers addresses, and especially bank account details should never be given out on social media. NEVER!

What happens when you have a family?

How much information should we tell our families to keep personal in terms of their own and the rest of the family’s details?

How much of our own personal information should we share on social media and how much of other people’s info should we share.  The internet is full of advice, but the common thread is to not post other people’s activities or stories without their permission

When someone phones your child and asks them about their mom or dad and what their names are and where they work, a 7 or 8-year-old will happily tell them everything they know. All of that information is a foot in the door for a criminal to get even more information.  Perhaps we should be talking to our families about our and their personal detail security.

 

But then there is information that we all really should share.

Who should we share this important info with and why must we share things like change of address?

But, this information should still not be shared on social media. We’re talking about sending an email to the bank or insurance company.

When you change your address, or if you move jobs, you have to contact the following people:

  • Bank
  • Insurance company
  • Work HR

Bank – because you have given them your address to send any serious (like legal information) to.  If that changes and you default, or payments go missing for whatever reason, you might find yourself with a judgment because you never responded to any correspondence so they assumed you were ducking and diving and went ahead with legal action.

Insurance company – because they may not pay if your car is insured for one area and that’s not where it is kept anymore.

Please do any and all important changes via email.  Send an email, don’t just phone and talk to the call centre. Keep that email, and if you don’t get an email confirmation, send the email again.  If you have notified the bank 5 weeks in a row of your change of address, there is no court which will say that you have tried to hide away.

In the end, keep your personal details private and don’t give any information to people you don’t know. It’s as simple as that.

getting out of debt review

What you need to know about the Johannesburg High Court ruling over debt review

There has been a recent judgement in the Johannesburg High Court about getting out of debt review.  There was a lot of uncertainty before and now there is a final judgement. In this article, we discuss what you need to know about the Johannesburg High Court ruling over debt review.

The full bench, and not just one judge, decided that the only way to get out of debt review is to pay up all your debt.

But this excludes your house. You can leave debt review when all your other accounts are paid up and then you carry on paying your house, and you can get credit again like anyone else.

What happened before the High Court ruling?

It took a few years before we realised we had a problem. People mostly don’t want to get out of debt review just after they have started, it’s only when money starts getting better. As soon as we realised the law wasn’t very clear on when people can leave the debt review process, we went to court.

Previously, different judges and magistrates interpreted the National Credit Act in different ways. Some said that if you offered proof that your circumstances have improved, you can leave debt review and take over full payments. Others said you had to finish the debt review process. This new judgment applicable over the whole country has agreed with the latter.

What this means is that there are a whole lot of people stuck in debt review who either stopped paying when something happened and now pay bits and pieces of their debt when they get a phone call.

Then there are some who took over paying their own debt because their debt counsellor moved or just stopped practicing, and they need to get a clearance certificate to get out of debt review.

At RD Debt Counselling, we have had a lot of people coming to us with these queries and we have started a business called Clear Me where we help people who are stuck in debt review or have bad credit records and want to get them fixed.

Are you stuck in debt review or just can’t get your credit record cleared?

Firstly, we do an investigation. We get the credit reports, check the NCR database, and find out as much as we can about how we can fix your situation.

Once we have worked out what we need to do, then we can sit down with you to discuss how we can sort out your situation.

We can help you to get out of debt review, we can issue clearance certificates, or negotiate with your creditors to get your debt review back on track.

We have lawyers who can go to court if that is necessary.

The most important point is don’t just leave it.  Sooner or later you might need credit and the time to start fixing is not when you need the credit, it’s long before.

So, if you have a problem getting out of debt review, give us a call for a free consultation. Only once we start doing actual work on your file will there be fees, and you will know exactly how much this will cost you. If finances are tight, we can make a payment plan.

Don’t just leave it. Call RD Debt Counselling today.