The National Responsible Credit Helpline (NRC Helpline) is offered to consumers of credit across South Africa. The helpline is available week days between 8:00am and 4:30 pm on a share call number, with a call back facility during other hours. Another method of contact is that consumers can also request a call back by sending a Whatsapp to the ICS – where the ICS will call a consumer once a message is received.
Credit and credit products are complex and not easy to understand for most consumers, even educated ones. While the National Credit Act provides for comprehensive disclosure, simple and understandable language, access to documents and statements and the explanation of the risks and costs of credit, many consumers enter into credit agreements without any understanding of rights and responsibilities, cost of credit, dispute processes, debt enforcement and the various credit products. While financial literacy education is essential our experience is that consumers need just more than information, they need an objective and knowledgeable place/person to go to for information and guidance prior to taking up credit or when things aren’t going well and they need relief. The NRC Helpline offers both.
Through the NRC Helpline the ICS aims to reduce the negative impact of over indebtedness on individuals, families and society in general through proactive and reactive interventions. The NRC Helpline ensures that consumers have access to credible and objective information that addresses the consumer’s unique concerns or situation at the time that they call. The NRC Helpline agents are supported by a team of expert mediators and registered debt counsellors, should a consumer require relief.
The NRC Helpline educates consumers from the time that they are considering taking out credit to the point where they actually take out credit and everything that follows after that, including providing relief where they experience financial hardship or their rights are transgressed.
The NRC Helpline provides credit information to the consumer through a one-stop information centre on the following subjects:
- Managing income and expenses and measuring affordability over the long term;
- Understanding the costs and implications of credit and managing risks over the term of the loan;
- Understanding credit terms like: balloon payments, compounding interest, residual payments, unsecured debt, secured debt, securitisation, term loans, pay day loans, consolidation loans, early settlement of credit agreements, Payment Distribution Agents and fixed loans;
- What to look out for when taking on credit e.g. term, interest rate, fees, third-party costs when using an agent, credit life insurance and ensuring that the credit provider is registered;
- Explaining and facilitate understanding of the following processes and ensuring rights and responsibilities are discussed: How to apply for credit, Debt Review, sale in execution, repossession, disputes, S129, administration, sequestration and garnishee orders/emolument attachment orders.
- Where to go for assistance or to lodge complaints backed up by a well-structured referral process