Sunday, 31 August 2014

BEING HOUNDED BY DEBT COLLECTORS

Being hounded by debt collectors
By: Fin24
2014-08-29 19:01

A Fin24 user is being hounded by debt collectors for debt she says is not hers. She writes:
I hope there is someone who can give me some advice.
Seventeen years ago I signed surety for a stepson. One of my policies acted as security.
The policy was returned to me by my bank and according to my knowledge the security was not needed anymore, because the debt had been paid.
Now, after all this time, debt collectors are calling me - using my previous surname - and saying that I owe money on my credit card.
I have never had a credit card at the bank they mention, although it was the bank which provided the loan to my stepson long ago.
How do I stop these people from calling me every week - on my cellphone, landline and also on the cellphone of my husband.
Where do they get my details? Please help.
Anel de Bruyn, attorney and certified forensic examiner at Myburgh Attorneys, responds:
Receiving telephone calls from a debt collector demanding money for an account that you allegedly opened can be a daunting experience.
 
Debt collectors have a code of conduct under the Debt Collectors Act 114 of 1998 wherein it clearly states that debt collectors shall not:
- "Abuse or intimidate a debtor in any manner, whether orally or in writing, in order to induce a person to pay a debt";
- "Make telephone or personal calls or send written communication which may constitute excessive harassment of the debtor, his or her spouse or any member of his or her family".
The next time you receive a telephone call from the debt collectors you should take down their contact details, reference number and the name of the person you are speaking to.
You should ask the debt collectors to furnish you with documentary proof of the alleged credit card debt you incurred. It might be that the calls have nothing to do with the security provided.
It is important to note that, should summons not have been issued within three years after the debt has become due and payable, it would prescribe and in such an event you cannot be held liable for the debt incurred.
In the event that it is evident that you did not open the credit card account, but that you were a victim of the ever growing identity theft millions of people fall prey to:    
- You can report identity fraud to the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (Help line: 0860 101 248;
- In case of financial fraud you can contact the Credit Ombudsman to resolve disputes with creditor providers or their agents (debt collectors) on 0861 662837 or ombud@creditombud.org.za.

Comment by Eugene Prinsloo
Partner at Meecham, Prinsloo & Associates

Debt collectors are regulated by the Debt Collectors Act. Attorneys are not. Some attorneys will use the same methods or worse to collect on outstanding debt.
Legislation will soon make it illegal to collect debt that has prescribed.

If an attorney harasses you and you can find proof of misconduct report them to their local Law Society.

Debt collectors will use all means of forcing you to pay, this is called soft collections they will call, sms and email you to death, threaten you will fire and brimstone but rarely they will take legal action.

Obtain legal advice before you attempt to deal or negotiate any debt. Just like in a criminal matter its better to shut up and get advice before you harm your case.

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