• How to deal with Debt Review
  • How to improve your credit score
  • How to clear your name
  • And much more...


Justin Harrison 00:02
Okay, and we are live. Let’s just give everyone a chance to jump on here quickly.

David Bester 00:16

Justin Harrison 00:23
Good morning, everyone. If you’re just joining us, on this live Q&A session with Dawie Bester and myself, Justin Harrison, we’ll be answering all your questions, that we sometimes don't get to, in the webinars. Obviously, in the webinars, we try to answer as many questions as we can. But unfortunately, as I'm sure a lot of you will appreciate, we are delivering content on the webinar so, it's not always possible to get to all the questions. But, on this Facebook Live Q&A session, and we will be answering all your questions. So, all you have to do, in the comment box, type your comments, your question, and Dawie and I will, as we go along, display it on screen and address your questions. So today is a Q&A session. We haven't got any specific content planned; we're literally just going to be answering people's questions.

David Bester 01:20
The majority of the feedback that we've been getting, as you guys know, the ones that are the webinars, we seem to see the questions here quite often. Just gathering feedback about the webinars and how we can deliver content better to you. And the majority was actually for us to spend more time answering questions. And like Justin said, now it's all it's not always possible. One of the requests was also that we keep the webinars up to 45 minutes. And as you know, that actually hasn't even been possible. We're always running into like an hour or so. So, that's why we decided we're going to keep Facebook for questions. Also, everyone is on Facebook, so it's quite logical to do the questions here. So, here we are. If you guys have any questions, please start typing in the comment box. We will be going through all of them very shortly. I think a few people still need to get online. We were scheduled for half-past; I think we've got about three minutes left. So, some of these questions actually come from yesterday already. Maybe we should start going over a few of the very general stuff here?

Justin Harrison 02:38
Let me quickly bring up some questions here Dawie and we'll address these. As you have questions, please leave them in the comment box, we're going to work our way down the list and answer your questions.

So, the first question from Willem. He asks: “I sent +/-10 times my documentation, but nothing solved”. So, what I’m guessing the question relates to, Dawie...

David Bester 03:04
No, no. I actually commented on Willem’s question yesterday. So, what happened in Willem’s case is, he actually posted a picture of the TransUnion website. He was locked out of his account and he can't get in and he says, he sent documentation to them about 10 times and they still haven't gotten back to him. I just want to make it very clear; we've got nothing to do with TransUnion, we’ve got no affiliation with them. So, if you're locked out of TransUnion, you need to please contact TransUnion and get your account opened up again. We are ‘My Credit Status’ and not why not ‘TransUnion’.

David Bester 03:41
Dawie, I think what a lot of consumers don't understand, typically about the credit reporting industry is, that there have always been your guys like Experian, XDS, TransUnion. The problem with these organisations is, they're pretty much focused on businesses; they're very much institutional-based businesses. We’re one of the first consumer-led businesses in South Africa. We’re really focused on the consumer’s credit reports and we get a lot of questions coming across to us that relate to - which is essential, our competitors – so, if you are signed up with TransUnion, please, by all means, go and ask TransUnion. If you’re signed up with My Credit Status, all you have to do is log a question with us, on our support desk and we’re can pretty responsive; within an hour, you'll have a response. Okay, Dawie, I'm going to work my way down the list here.

This viewer is asking: “I was listed by mistake and I want to know, that since my issue has been resolved by the court, why is it taking so long to clear my name?”

David Bester 04:57
Shall I answer that one?

Justin Harrison 04:59
Ja, absolutely. Go for it. David Bester 05:00
So firstly, I’ve got no idea how long you have been waiting, but if a court actually ruled in your favour, then you've got a pretty rock-solid case. You can take that same proof that you got from the court and you can just send it to the credit bureaus if you are a bit impatient; they will definitely update your credit score. You need to remember that sometimes it can take about 60-days for things to be updated at the credit bureaus. So, you need to be a little bit patient, it does take some time. You need to also remember, there are 1000’s people contacting these credit bureaus, every single day. So, yes. These kinds of things aren't really making the credit bureaus money, so they don’t allocate that many resources to it, and that's why it takes a bit of time.

Justin Harrison 05:45
Ja, absolutely. And I think what the person asking the question, needs to understand is, that this is a manual process. So, you're just going to have to be patient; you're going to have to be persistent. Once you have logged a dispute with the credit bureau, then, you need to make sure that you follow up. They’ve got about 20-days to sort your problem out. So, if they haven't responded within 20-days, y next bit of advice is to go to the National Credit Regulator – the NCR - who basically issues all of the credit bureaus a license - just like we've got our license. And so, if you're not having luck directly with the credit bureau, with regards to your listing, go to the NCR. You can go to ncr.org.za and log a formal dispute against the credit bureau there. That would be your best bet. But make sure it has been at least 20-days.

David Bester 06:38
Yeah. 20 working days. According to the NCA, it's 30 days, but that basically counts in the weekends as well.

Justin Harrison 06:45
Okay, Dawie, the next question is from Themba and he's asking: “I'm struggling to buy a car. Every time they told me about a low credit score.”

David Bester 06:57
Yes, so what you need to do is, you need to start increasing your credit score. It's law in South Africa, that lenders can't give you money if you can't afford it. What happens is, firstly, they’ll look at your credit score, right? Now, if you've got a good credit score, according to this specific lender. You need to understand that everyone has got different risk classes, so it depends on the lender, that you're applying to. But, let's assume, that you've got a good credit score. Now, the next thing they look at is affordability. Basically, affordability means, they take your income and subtract your expenses from income and they see what you have got left. Now, if they can see that you won't be able to make the monthly repayment, then actually, by law, they can't give you that vehicle finance. Because they can face getting a penalty and the penalties are pretty high for these companies. So, they don't take risks on that. Second thing is, you need to start increasing your credit score. If you go to My Credit Status, we posted often, there's lots of information. All our webinars are focused on increasing your credit score. So, for me to just sit here, telling you, how to increase your credit score is, not that simple because everyone's got different profiles and different circumstances. Where one thing might work for me, it might not necessarily be the best thing, let's say, for Justin. It's pretty much a personalised thing. You need to see where you have got problems and start working on those specific sections, on your credit report. We'll get into more detail later on. I’m sure there's a lot of these questions, about how it's calculated and how you improve it.

Justin Harrison 08:32
Ja, Themba, if we can give you some quick take-home points: first of all, make sure you go and register with MyCreditStatus.co.za and get a monthly report. The only way to increase your score and correct your score is, to monitor it on a monthly basis. That's point number one. Point number two, go into MyCreditStatus.co.za Educational Library; there are a couple of dozen videos on there, all detailing once you are inside the member’s area, basically, how you can go about improving your score. It also details the things that are important to your score. And the third thing I would say is, go and have a look at our past webinars on our YouTube channel. There is a webinar on there, specifically related to the key things you can do, like the top seven things you can do to increase your score. Those are your top three take-home points there. If you go and do those few things, I'm pretty sure you will very soon start seeing an increase in your score.

The next question comes from Ronald. He says: “How do I correct my address because my old address reflects on my credit report. There are still loans on it that I paid off a long time ago. How do I correct it?”

David Bester 09:46
Okay, so, all your historical addresses will be displayed on your credit report. I wouldn't worry about that because your address actually doesn't influence your credit score. It's only if you, let's assume you've got multiple addresses in one year; let's assume, you've moved to like four or five different places. Only then could it make a little bit of difference to your overall credit score. But if you’ve got historical addresses, it doesn't matter if you had loans at that time; they look at the loan and not the address of a loan because you are the individual that took out a loan, not the address. So, I wouldn't worry about that. If the address is correct, I would just leave it there; and if it's not correct, then yes, you need to dispute it with the credit bureaus. Send them proof of the address and ask them to rectify it.

Justin Harrison 10:31
I think one of the very useful tools inside MyCreditStatus.co.za is that we have a dispute generator. What you can do - and Dawie will show you the report structure just now - basically, when you pull up your report, if there’s an item on there that’s incorrect, or that you need to dispute, all you do is you click on the dispute button, the system will guide you on what you need to do, the documentation you'll need to provide. And then we’ll help you put together, the email that needs to go into the specific credit bureau to update that information. The most important thing is, make sure that your most recent address is correct. The past address is not too important. And then, the second thing is, if there are debts on your profile, which are indeed paid up, what you need to do is, you need to go to those providers and get a paid-up letter. And then, take the paid-up letter and log that with your dispute. The credit bureaus have 20 working days, once you’ve provided all relevant documentation, to update that on your profile.

The next question comes from Neo: “How do I get out of debt review because they terminated their contract and I am now paying the accounts directly?” This a very good question. Dawie, we had an attorney on, fairly recently, that dealt with this specific matter. So, if you can answer that, as quickly and directly as possible?

David Bester 12:04
Yes. It's good that you're paying off your accounts directly; keep continuing to do that. Once you're done, you take all the paid-up letters and you get the settlement letter from the debt review company. I don't really know what you mean by, “the contract is terminated”, but you can go to the debt counsellor that started your process and get them to give you the letter and you send that letter to the credit bureau and the debt review flag is then taken off your credit report.

Justin Harrison 12:33
I think a lot of people have been caught in this debt review - I want to call it a grey area because there are some really good debt review companies out there – but your typical call centre debt review companies, who never actually physically see you, everything is done remotely, as Anton said - the attorney who we had the webinar with - he made mention of the fact that the call centre guys are often, pretty unscrupulous. Sometimes, you don't even submit yourself for debt review and almost instantly, you're ending the debt review, because you've given them your details. So, the first thing is, I’m assuming your first problem is, that you no longer working with the debt review company or the counsellor? In that case, you need to provide documented proof, regardless of the debt that you're paying directly. The first thing you need to do is, provide the documented proof that you're no longer working with a debt review company. And once you can do that, you can provide that in a dispute to the credit bureau, and then, that should be removed from your listing.

Okay, so the next question comes from Danzil. He says, “When are they going to clear our names again?”

I think this question specifically refers to the credit amnesty. When the credit amnesty was brought in, everybody was given, pretty much a clean slate, in terms of their credit records. I’ll answer it very simply; we don't know. There might be some new government legislation coming around because of the whole Coronavirus thing. Maybe people will be given some kind of amnesty or advantage in the future but unfortunately, we don't have an answer to this. But what I will say is, if you're focused on whenever the amnesty is going to clear your name, I would say, the priority that you need to make it, making sure that your existing credit profile is correct. Whether they provide an amnesty in the future or not, it is absolutely critical that you look at your existing report and try and fix it. Just going through the comments here, let’s see. Dawie, do you want to take this one from Howard Louw?

David Bester 15:07
Okay, sure. “Debt written off and closed was bought by a third party, now demand payment?! Can I contest it? The loan was granted, unsecured and while I had a bad credit record. OM never followed regulations, why the loan lapsed after five years when I struggled to pay”. I’m not sure I understand this correctly [inaudible]

Justin Harrison 15:30
I’m assuming he had a debt that was written off and closed. It's pretty difficult to comment, unless we know whether a summons was issued on that debt, because again, if a summons was issued on the debt, it changes of scenario, quite significantly. A lot of people are under the impression that, if a debt has been written off, that debt is now completely off the books. What you need to go and look at, in terms of your credit record, number one: have a look, if whether a summons was successfully issued, because even if the debt is written off and a summons was issued, that is going to hang around your record for a while, unfortunately. In terms of your debt being bought by a third party and demanding payments; he is a classic debt collection scam that goes on. What happens is, these fly-by-night attorneys and debt collectors, basically, what they do is, they buy an old debtor’s book and they start calling. I’ve had people calling me for Health and Racket subscriptions. I think I stopped paying my Health and Racket subscriptions two months before they went under and 15 years later, I've still got people trying to collect on R238 worth of subscriptions. The reality of the situation is, there is no need to contest it. Legally, if the debt has been written off; if you’ve got a letter confirming that; you shouldn't have anything to worry about. And also, just as I said, go and double-check, whether you actually have had a summons issued against you for the debt. If you haven't, you're in the clear. If you have had a summons issued against you, that becomes a little bit more complex. And then, my advice would be, to get hold of an attorney to try and help you, clear it up through the courts.

David Bester 17:20
I think it could be that he is also referring to prescribed debt. That means, that a creditor hasn’t tried to collect money from you, for three years, so the debt has been prescribed. In that case, you must just get proof and send it to the credit bureau.

Justin Harrison 17:39
Dawie, it that instance, it could be one of two things. Maybe, Howard, you can add an additional comment down below and we'll try to get into more detail on it, as we go through the comments. But if the debt was written by the company, then there should be a formal letter that you should be able to access. However, if the debt has been prescribed, which pretty means, they haven't been able to collect on the debt and you haven't been summonsed, then that's an entirely different situation, as well. So, we really need to know the circumstances on those debts, to be able to answer you accurately, on that.

The next question comes from Mishnah: “I've been under debt review. I’m nearly finished with it by next January. They send me statements every month, and are they allowed to extend my process because the agreement was for 60 months?”

Mishkah, if I can just answer you, on this one, very plainly: it depends on the agreement that you have with the company, that's helping you with the debt review. If they've gone in there, what is known as an ‘Evergreen Clause’, which basically means, that you have to cancel within a certain period, before the end of the agreement, then they are, pretty much, going to extend the contract, if you don't provide the notice. Additionally, you need to read the wording in the contract and see whether the agreement does make provision for extending across the 60 months. Legally, it really depends on what's in that agreement; it depends on what you’ve signed. So, without actually seeing that document, it is very, very difficult for us to answer.

David Bester 19:12
Ja and that also only really matters towards the fees that you're paying them. The thing is, you are paying the accounts, even if you are under review. So, you can just continue paying the accounts. Finish paying your accounts and then, get the settlement letter from the debt review company and then, send that off to the credit bureaus. But according to the contract, I mean, every contract is different. So, you'll need to speak to the company about that.

Justin Harrison 19:40
Ja. And I see Mishkah had a second follow up question here, which we'll just deal with. She said: “Once I'm done with the debt review process, how do I get the rating up on my score?”

Dawie, if I can maybe take that one? First and foremost, if we can give you the esoterical answer, which is, understand what got you in the process, in the first place. I'm sure there are life circumstances but there's also a discipline factor when it comes to money. So, number one, I would say, really look at your financial habits; that's the first starting point. Try not to repeat those habits, obviously. You now know the pain of having been in this process. Then secondly, what you want to do is, you want to demonstrate to lenders that you are a responsible citizen, that they will loan money to you or give accounts to you. Your best way to do that is, to start with small accounts - things like a cell phone bill, things like a Telkom account, maybe a store account, maybe a credit card. The most important thing is, to make sure that you stick within your debt utilisation ratio. So, we recommend, you should never use more than 30% of any facility that you have provided. If you get given a facility of R10,000, don't use more than R3,000. And then secondly, and most importantly, make sure you pay your instalments on time; if not, ahead of time. If you do those things, you will very, very quickly see your score increase. Dawie, is there anything you want to add to that?

David Bester 21:10
Yes, I think what's going to happen is, you're starting from scratch now. The only way you're going to build up account history and build up a credit utilisation and payment record, is to get some accounts, right? Let's assume, you do go and apply now for a credit card, or a cell phone contract, whatever it might be. Initially, you're going to see your score drop again, so, don't get a fright when that happens; that's pretty normal. That means that you're taking on some risk, but after about six months, it will gradually start increasing again. I think what Justin said is, just make sure all your payments are always on time and be responsible. Don’t go and open up accounts, if you know that you won't be able to repay them, especially not credit cards and store accounts. Go for the safer debts, such as insurance, because that also gets displayed on your credit report. As Justin said, even a Telkom bill gets displayed. So, that will also help to build up a good credit profile again.

Justin Harrison 22:11
Okay, the next question comes from Desiree. She says: “I’m under debt review… started in January 2020… due to Coronavirus. The company was supposed to register my papers at court... Now, every time they say or postponed till a later date. Can I still tell them to rather cancel the debt review… Would rather try another company…? As they deduct monthly debit review amount via my bank acc.”

Dawie, I’ll answer the first part, then maybe you can take the second part. Desiree, I just want to make it very clear. You, as the consumer in South Africa, have a lot of rights. And so yes, you absolutely, are within your rights, to change your debt review company. It may be a little bit of a process. You might have to go through one or two regulatory bodies to get it done. But having said that, you are well within your rights, if you're not happy with the state of your current debt review partner, to go and seek services elsewhere.

David Bester 23:13
I agree with that.

Justin Harrison 23:15
Okay, the next question comes from Clive Peters. Clive says: “I’m under debt review at present and not all my accounts have been included… I am currently getting calls from my creditors and letters from them the accounts still get paid monthly. What must I do to get them to stop?”

David Bester 23:33
Well, I would contact the debt review company that you're currently dealing with, because the reason why you are under debt review is it legally gives the debt review counsellor power to go to these companies and negotiate lower interest rates. It actually will count in your favour if you're already with a debt review company. I would go to them and tell them, listen here, please go and deal with these people. Because no creditor can actually give you any money if you're under debt review, right? So, I would just go to the debt counsellor and tell them, listen here, I've been paying you for your services; this is now your problem; sort it out for me.

Justin Harrison 24:11
Ja, 100%. Okay, the next question comes from Neezy - I'm sure there's a nickname: “Since the interest rate has been reduced, does this mean that a minimum credit score required for certain credit also reduced?”

Okay, I get the question. The question is, since the interest rate has been reduced, does that also mean that you need a lower score to access credit? No. The score ranges and the scores bands for accessing finance, accessing loans, are pretty much, almost always going to be in the upper range. If you’ve got a poot credit score, chances are you’re not going to get approved. Or, if you do get approved, you're going to be punished. You’re going to be punished with interest rates, terms, etc. So, the fact that the interest rate moves, has absolutely no bearing, whatsoever, on the type of score you need, to access finance.

The next question comes from Mageba - I don't know how to pronounce it. Sorry, my pronunciation is not very good. “Someone told me that if I take out a loan (for R10,000) then keep the money for 30 days, and then, pay back the money with full interest, this will increase my credit score?” [inaudible] Sorry, Dawie.

David Bester 25:46
Can I take this one?

Justin Harrison 25:47
Please. Absolutely.

David Bester 25:48
Who even gave you that advice? Please, never, ever listen to them again. That is horrible advice; absolutely horrible. A personal loan and a microloan are not good for your credit score, because it’s short-term loans, it’s high credit risk, it also reduces your credit score quite a lot. So, even if you pay it off, your credit score will eventually increase. That's true. But taking out a loan and taking a microloan, involves a lot of interest. And it's not only interest, they add a lot of other stuff, like credit life insurance, they add extra fees, admin fees, processing fees, all kinds of crap. So no, do not take out a loan. The best thing that you can probably take out, is a credit card. But if you're not responsible, do not take out a credit card. It’s as simple as that. But no. Microloans and personal loans, stay away from them. I know it sounds a bit weird, coming from a company with a credit bureau license because most credit bureaus will try and force loan offers onto you, all the time. But that's where we are completely different. We're not going to try and sell anyone loans. We’re actually are very vocal when it comes to personal finance and money management. And a personal loan and a microloan is not the way to go.

Justin Harrison 27:01
I'm a great example, in this instance, I don't have a single loan account; I don't have a single store account. The only thing that shows up on my credit profile is my Telkom account payment every month, my insurance payment every month, and pretty much, other than that, I’m a ghost. And I’ve got a credit score of 683. Now, 683 is pretty damn high. It’s in the top 3% in the country, right?

David Bester 27:30
You could qualify for anything with that credit score. Put it that way.

Justin Harrison 27:33
100%. I just want to make the point that, Dawie and I don’t advocate loans, to begin with. We’re probably the wrong people to talk to about loans because we don't advocate loans, for most people. Having said that, we know it’s a reality, people need to access finance, right. So, in those instances, the best thing you can do is, to prove a track record. Remember, what you're wanting to do. It’s a bit like - if I can take a slightly flowered approach to this and say, this is a bit like dating potential lenders. You want to show them how good you are before they decide to actually commit to you. And the way you do that is, by having small accounts and small loans and consistently paying those accounts, over time. If you consistently meet your payments on time, consistently manage your debt, then people will want to give you money. It’s as simple as that.

There’s a follow-up question, from the same user. The follow-up question: “What is the best way to improve your score over three months?”

Dawie, I'll actually take this in the first part. So, step number one: you need to be monitoring your credit report. It's pointless just looking at your score, you need to look at all the data that goes into making a score. If you go to MyCreditStatus.co.za and you take a report, you'll get a very long detailed report that tells you all your previous addresses, your previous loans, your previous employers if you’ve got any judgments; it tells you everything on there. So, step number one: get your report. Step number two is, go and check your report for any incorrect listings. More than 80% of people in South Africa have incorrect listings on credit profiles, which harms their score. So, absolutely, get your report, check your reports and list disputes. Those are the two first things. And then the third thing you can do is, really try and get your debt utilisation ratios intact. You do not want to be using more than 30% of any facilities you have available. If you have an R100,000 overdraft, you should never be using more than R30,000. If you use more than R30,000, it basically looks to potential lenders that your debt utilisation ratios are out, therefore, you could possibly be a bad person to lend money to. So, those are my top tips. Dawie, if there's anything else that you could add, in a three-month short-period, for people who won’t help to increase their scores?

David Bester 29:53
No. I think you hit the nail on the head. The easiest thing is to find errors and remove the errors; that is actually what the credit expert does. That’s the first thing they do is, go look for errors because they know it's the easiest. And then, the utilisation, like you said. Those are the quick tips. And monitoring them monthly. It's important to know that getting a good credit score is an ongoing process and that's why it's something you have to track every single month. Also, as you know, we've got a massive problem with identity theft in South Africa. From 2018 to 2019, identity theft increased by about 33%, which is astronomical, actually. So, that also is another reason for you to be monitoring your profile monthly, to combat these kinds of things because that's the quickest way you’re going to know about identity theft. And when it pops up, you can stop it immediately. You can dispute it immediately and get it off your credit record and you won't have issues later down the line when you want to apply for some kind of finance.

Justin Harrison 30:49
Ja Dawie, the points on identity theft... People think this is a problem that happens overseas, but we're actually a pretty advanced, financial country; we've got pretty advanced systems. But with those systems, comes a lot of opportunities for people to take advantage of and be unscrupulous. I must tell you, with the weakness that is at Home Affairs and how easily ID numbers are given out; somebody can just go through your trash and basically, get an account, proof of residence and be opening accounts in your name. It happens all the time. I cannot tell you, how many of my friends, who recently started checking their credit reports, have picked up attempts on their name for identity theft. And the great thing is, the moment somebody does an inquiry on your account, that inquiry is logged and it’s shown. So, if you know that you're not out there looking for loans, but for some reason, there's activity on your profile, somebody's looking for loans, and it wasn't you, chances are, somebody’s about to commit identity theft on you. Absolutely, take it very, very seriously.

Dawie, there’s a follow-up comment here by Howard; I'll just quickly put this up. He said: “They have the voice recordings.” And he's happy for the response; it’s going to help him eventually and it's Old Mutual that he's dealing with.

Luckily, if you’re dealing with a repeatable institution, like Old Mutual, you will find that a document trail should be pretty easy to pick up. Don't hold your breath always, Howard, when it comes to voice recordings. There is a certain period of time that companies need to keep their voice recordings with fallback but it's something that is not necessarily policed the way it should be. So, you may get your recordings; you may not. Try and get physical documents as evidence, if you can.

Okay, the next question comes from Mavis: “I’m worried… I’m about to sign marriage COP and my patent is on a debt review. Won’t that affect or appear on my credit status?”

So, whoa, Dawie, I’m going to answer this question. Do you know what I'm about to say, hey? Okay, so, Mavis, if I can give you a very honest piece of advice? I've actually just written a book on Global Money Academy called, ‘Marriage and Money. I highly suggest you go and get yourself a copy of that book: ‘Marriage and Money’. It's available also on Amazon. And if you are, one of the stronger financial partners in that relationship, or if you see yourself starting a business and being one of the stronger financial partners in the future, or an equal financial project, my honest advice is and this is one of the few times, you'll ever see me use the words, ‘ANC’ in a positive light; go and sign an Antenuptial Contract. Community of Property is really one of the most dangerous marriage contracts you can enter into. I'm not going to go into huge detail on it here but community of property, basically, whatever your partner does, is linked to you and whatever you do is linked to your partner. And so, you could be finding yourself in a whole heap of trouble in the future. Even if your partner is financially responsible now, I'm telling you as a man who's 43 and been through life a little bit; I can tell you that things don't always go along the same path that you set out when you're married. So, COP – big mistake, in my opinion. Please get yourself a copy of ‘Marriage and Money’. Now the second part of your question is, in terms of your parents being on debt review and that affecting your credit status. Well, your parents are a separate entity. In fact, depending on how they’re married, they’ve each got their own profiles. That does not affect your profile, unless you have signed surety for loans, for your parents. Then, all of a sudden, that becomes an issue. So please just take my advice, save yourself a whole heap of anguish, get away from Community of Property - it's an antiquated way of getting married. In Community of Property, you belong to your partner; the other party belongs to you. It’s almost like being in a cattle sale. So, don't be a ‘cattle’!

David Bester 35:25
I think, to give a very simple example. Let's assume, you’re getting married in Community of Property. One night your partner has one too many drinks or even just that one drink. He drives, a kid runs in front of the car, the kid gets killed and now, the parents are suing you for everything you've got. Because you are in Community of Property, they can come after you as well, not only your partner. So, you stand to lose everything in this contract.

Justin Harrison 35:51
Please. If there's one thing you take out of that question that we answered – don’t get married in COP.

Mariam says: “Hi, I have no debt listed on my ITC after paying all the debt. Will my ITC score still improve if only my insurance is listed currently?”

Well, Dawie, you can take this. I just want to say, I haven’t heard the word ITC, for a long time.

David Bester 36:18
Fun fact, actually. Where ITC comes from is, TransUnion was one of the first bureaus in South Africa and they were called ‘TransUnion ITC’. Even still, today, everyone calls it ITC. Mariam, thank you very much for your kind words if I can start off with that. She's been posting a lot of comments of how we've helped her increase her credit scores. She’s also a member on My Credit Status, actually. So, I'm very glad that you've been taking the advice. I see you also commented, that you’ve got a 10% utilisation ratio; I'm sure that helped you a lot. In terms of your insurance listings, yes. The older your accounts get, the more your score will eventually improve but that's a long-term approach to it. Typically, the lenders want to see you having accounts, up to five years; five years is like the golden age for them. So, if you've got accounts, five years of age, saying you’re paying your accounts on time, yes, it adds a lot to your credit score. And also, I'm sure you've watched all the other webinars because you've also commented on them quite a lot; you're always present. If you just keep following those steps, I'm sure you will get a great credit score. As we said, it's an ongoing process. The fact that you have paid all your debts, is great; you're already on the right track. I see you've also got a pretty decent score now. It will increase, you’ve just got to keep following good credit practices.

Justin Harrison 37:45
Okay, so the next question is a follow-up. “I'm worried… My partner is on the debt review and we’re about to sign marriage in COP; won’t that affect my credit status?”

Dawie, do you want to just highlight this? It’s slightly different from the previous question. This person’s worried that they're marrying and that it's going to affect the partner and they enter into a COP, will it affect the credit score if the partners under debt review.

David Bester 38:12
No, you are still two different individuals. So, your credit score is your credit score; the partner’s credit scores are the partner’s credit score. So no, it won't reflect on your credit report.

Justin Harrison 38:25
Okay, the next question or comment comes from Linzy: “If you took your car without a residual amount” - in other words, no balloon payments – “is there a way you could pay that amount…”

David Bester 38:36
“With” – she said, “with the residual amount”.

Justin Harrison 38:38
Oh, with residual – sorry, my apologies – “With residual amount… is there a way you could pay that amount to decrease it while still paying normal instalments?” Dawie, do you want to handle that?

David Bester 38:50
Well, it won’t increase because that’s only liable at the end of the term, of a car, right? So, at the end of the term, you need to pay that residual amount back again, or you need to refinance it. The best thing to do is, take the money, actually account for that, and put it into an account that generates interest. At least, at the end of the term, you'll have that balloon payment saved up. You won't be caught surprised by the balloon payment, which is now liable. And, you'll at least get some good interest in that. I don’t know if you want to add to that, Justin?

Justin Harrison 39:22
No, I think that's good advice. And then also, Clive has asked a previous question and I’ll take this one, Dawie. He said: “Under what conditions can a creditor refuse or cancel the debt review negotiations?”

Well, you need to appreciate that, when you make a loan or debt, you are essentially liable for that debt. Okay? So, they can actually reject debt review under pretty much any condition they choose. They don't have to accept the terms of anything that you put run across to them, in terms of debt review. The reason why it makes sense to use a debt review company, especially a reputable debt review company, is because they will go in and negotiate on your behalf, and you have to think in terms of the creditor’s mindset. The creator would rather get some money from you, than no money, right? So, if they’re seeing that an account has gone bad; if they see that you really haven't been able to pay your account and then, the last straw is that you come with a debt review company and try and negotiate terms with them. Most of the time, they're going to be pretty open to that, but you need to appreciate, you made the debt, you took on the loan, and you are liable for that. It is, by the grace of the creditor, that they decide to enter into a negotiation with you. Dawie, is there anything you want to add to that?

David Bester 40:46
Ja, see it that way. Most of the families or relationships, turn sour, when it comes to money and that's mostly because of debt repayments not being made, as agreed. Let's assume, you've got a very good friend, you pay him money and now, all of a sudden, he just decides he's not going to be paying back your debt but he's going to be going on holidays every single month, and your debt, your generosity of giving him money, doesn't really matter now. That's the same thing with the creditors. If you made the debt; it’s on to you to repay that.

Justin Harrison 41:21
And that's why we recommend using a reputable debt review company, so they can really negotiate on your behalf. They do this on a daily basis, so they can be in a better position to justify and explain why it's worth entering into a negotiation.

Okay. The next question comes from Nkonzo. He says: “What is a good score to access a home loan with a low-interest rate, and what are the credit score ranges in S.A?” Dawie, you’re pretty well-versed in this.

David Bester 41:54
Yes, the credit score ranges depend, from bureau to bureau, right? I can give you an example of this. So, zero to 527 is very poor; 528 to 602 is poor; 603 to 649 is fair or average; 650 to 669 is good; 670 to 705 is excellent - this means that you'll be getting a lower interest when you fall into this range class; you can qualify for any kind of finance in S.A if you've got an excellent credit score. So, our credit scores run from zero to 705 and we also give you the range class when you sign up. Maybe I can show you an example if you want? I can share my screen quickly, just showing you one of our credit reports and different range classes that people fall in.

Justin Harrison 42:50
Ja, Dawie, while you’re busy doing that, I think, it's a really important advantage of using My Credit Status. A lot of companies out there, that are providing reports, have pretty complicated reports. What we've done is, we've really tried to simplify our reports for the end-user. Most of these reports were actually developed initially for institutions, so if went to go and apply for finance with a bank or taking out car finance or you’re taking out a rental agreement; these reports, were very much written specifically, for institutions, for companies, and they weren’t very user friendly. So, we've been really focusing at MyCreditStatus.co.za, only on the consumer. We don't do any institutional business; we’re dealing directly with the consumer. Our worry is about, individuals in South Africa – how do we help them read their score; how do we help them manage their score; how do we make the information simple, understandable and accessible. If you have to look at one of our reports and you have to look at one of the other bureau reports, it’’ become evidently clear, how much effort we’ve put into really summarising and making things simple. So, as Dawie is showing on the screen here, what you can see is, when you take out a credit report on MyCreditStatus.co.za. You will see your score, which is, like in this case, 479; it will actually show you the meter, the ranges and below, we've got a summary of the ranges. Now, typically, you want to be in the good to the excellent range to really access, not only be approved for finance but really, access to the best deals. So, that is, where you need to meet to focus on being. And while we’re there, I thought I'll just bring up Mariam's comment. Mariam, thank you very much for your feedback; 638 is really a good score - that puts you right in the top [inaudible]

David Bester 44:53
That takes her into a ‘fair’ but you need to remember that Mariam comes from a ‘bad credit score, so she has gone, basically, two ranges already and she's now in the middle range. If she just continues what she's been doing, very soon, she'll be at ‘good’ and ‘excellent.

Justin Harrison 45:07
And let's be honest, the majority of people are not in that score range. The majority of people actually have very poor scores. You just have to look at the questions on this Q&A session and there's a number of people in the debt review; there's a number of people whose debt utilisation ratios are completely out, and so, consequently, we have this problem.

David Bester 45:29
Yes, and from what we've been seeing in our business and speaking to other people, as well is, about 70% of people have bad credit scores. So, ja, very well-done Mariam for getting that far already and improving your score. Maybe I should give you an example of what the utilisation looks like. This is also part of the credit report, that you'll see. This is an estimate only; I just want to make that very clear. This will show you the likelihood of qualifying for any kind of finance. If you have any questions, or if you're wondering about, what you can apply for, this will give you a good idea. As I said, there are other factors involved as well, like the lender’s criteria; the amount of risk, they're willing to take on; and obviously, your affordability. But, yes, this part of the report will show you. This is your utilisation score. What we’ve been saying all along is, the most important part of your credit report is obviously the repayments - showing how you are repaying your accounts, which is the very last section of your credit report, which is your payment profile. If I can just show you a quick example here. Sorry, I'm just adjusting my screen. You will see, this person does not have a very good credit repayment history, and that's why this person has also not got a good credit score, which is pretty obvious. That is your most important part, which accounts for about 40% of the total credit score calculation. I'm actually bypassing or covering a few questions now, in this. So, please take notes. The most important part is your payment history; the second most important part is this one, the credit utilisation. If you go to any other bureau, any other platform, they don't give you a credit utilisation; with us, we do because we know how important it is. You would typically want to be between zero and 30. As you go closer to 100, that damages your score. So, that is about 30% of your total credit score calculation. And then, the next part is the age of your accounts, which you'll see here, in the payment profile and the retail accounts section. It shows when you opened your accounts, how old your accounts are. And, while we’re at it, I should just give a quick demo of the dispute generator. Let’s assume, this account is wrong; you didn't take out this account. Now, you want to dispute it with the credit bureau. You click on the disputed account; let's assume, it's NedCard, and you want it removed or updated, you can choose there. What you need to do is simply upload your documents, we will then compile it into one PDF report, which is a dispute letter. And it also will contain all the proof that you have uploaded as well. You can just take this thing and then send it off to the credit bureau. That's basically how our system is making disputes a lot easier for the end consumer.

Justin Harrison 48:29
Ja, I think what people need to appreciate is, traditionally, if you wanted to list a dispute, what you have to do is, you have to collect all the stuff; you have to get a correct, formatted template to submit your dispute in. And then, you need to put that all together. So, what we've done is we've created a simple, online interface, where you can go line item by line item, on your credit report, and anything you're unhappy with, click the dispute button, and our system will guide you through creating the letter, assembling the documentation and they provide it in a single PDF, which you will then be provided with, as well as, the contact details for where to send it to, and how to monitor it. We've really made things simple there.

David Bester 49:19
Okay, I think I can stop the screen-sharing now.

Justin Harrison 49:22
Okay, so while you’re busy doing that, Dawie, the next question again, is from Neezy; “I have been on time with payments since January, but my credit score still can’t improve more than 600+. How long should I wait, I was advised two years, how true is this?”

David Bester 49:39
I don’t know who advised you, “two years” but it starts changing from around six months. But you need to remember, that if you're making your repayments on time, yes, it’ll gradually improve. There are lots of other things, you can also implement on your credit reports, or on your credit profile and in your lifestyle, to increase that. I highly suggest you go check out some of our previous webinars, where we’ve discussed it in detail.

Justin Harrison 50:03
Absolutely. And then, it's really nice to get positive feedback. Thank you so much guys, we really, Dawie and I are pouring our heart and soul into this business. We really do believe that every single person in South Africa, deserves to really understand what is going on with credit profiles. Traditionally, what has happened in our country with credit bureau information is, that it's gone and sat at the credit bureau and the end-user, the consumer, really hasn't had much interaction with that data or much control over that data. It’s something that happened between institutions. So, the banks and the retail accounts would communicate with the credit bureau and the consumer was always, sort of, left in the dark. Our approach to things is, that the credit bureau really is just the custodian of the data. And as custodians of the data, we, first of all, have to make sure that the data is looked after and secondly, we really do believe that it is important that consumers understand what their rights are, that consumers are empowered to know how to, not only improve their credit scores but become financially literate and really correct the past mistakes that they had. The thing is, if you went under debt review, if you had debt issues, as much as life circumstances happen, if we’re really honest with ourselves, it has a lot to do with our own financial acumen and knowledge. So, that is Dawie & my passion; we really put a huge amount of effort into this. He and I, maybe the face of the business but there's a lot of people behind the business; there’s a lot of people creating some amazing products, behind product developments, behind My Credit Status, to really give you guys a real opportunity at accessing finance responsibly, managing it irresponsibly, and ultimately, hopefully becoming financially free.

Alright, I’ll go onto Neezy, he got another question. Neezy, you’re quite active, financially. “I took out a cellular contract with MTN, when I check my credit report, it shows as paid-up. But I only made the first payment in June. Who do I contact to correct this? MT or the credit bureau?” Dawie?

David Bester 52:14
Well, June is fairly recent; that’s last month. Don't expect things to happen that quickly and sometimes it takes about 60 days for things to change on your credit report. So, just wait it out, see what happens. MTN usually give out the correct information, but if, in the future, you find that it's not correct, or the balance is what was not correct, or even the information stating how on time you’ve been with your payments, has not been correct. Simply dispute it with the credit bureaus; as the credit bureau to actually send you a proof. You don't even have to go to MTN. But ask the credit bureau to provide you with proof, they will then go and investigate the issue with MTN and they will give you an answer.

Justin Harrison 52:59
Absolutely. Our next question comes from Sarafina, and she asked: “What happens if the lenders refuse to give a Letter of Good Standing or to remove the negative amount? Which is accurate information?”

So, I can answer this in two parts. Sarafina, I'm assuming you have paid up your debt? And you're looking to dispute that the debt is still listed on your report? Please comment below and tell me if I'm correct in my understanding. To give you a basic, general overview: whenever you take out any kind of debt, the company's have to be listed with several institutions, depending on what they are. It might be the Financial Services Board, it might be the National Credit Regulator, it might be a combination of the two. And on top of that, there are independent bodies, which are basically called the Ombud. And the Ombud, there are different Ombud’s for insurance, for banking and for credits. There’s a bunch of Ombud’s available. No company can refuse a Letter of Good Standing or a paid-up letter if you have indeed paid the debt. If you have indeed paid the debt, you've got proof of the debt having been paid, you've got documented proof, and you asked for a Letter of Good Standing or a letter saying that you paid up and they refuse to provide it; don’t mess around, go straight to the governing bodies. Go to the National Credit Regulator, go to the Ombud that is most relevant to that, so if it’s a retail account, go to the retail Ombud; go and list your dispute there and force the company to give you that Letter of Good Standing. Because if you are in fact in good standing, there's absolutely no reason why they cannot provide you with that letter.

David Bester 54:46
They have to give you a statement if you ask for a statement; its law is South Africa. You can go to the credit Ombud if they refuse to give you a statement, which is also basically, a Letter of Good Standing because the statement will show that your accounts have been paid.

Justin Harrison 55:02
So, the next question comes from Collen. “I withdraw withdrew my debt review and paid off my debt, I am debt-free. My question is can debt review refuse to remove me under debt review, do they have legal right to do that?” Dawie, you’re welcome to answer this.

David Bester 55:21
Yes. If you've got the letter from the debt review company, stating that you have already settled all your debts, then, you’re well within your rights to get it removed. Simply get the letter from the debt review company, which has to give it to you, then just simply send it to the credit bureaus and have them remove it. Like Anton said, on the previous webinar. Some of the debt review companies or most of them, don’t even do it; they don’t send the letter off to the credit bureaus, which I don't understand why. If you go on debt review, you've got a moral obligation to try and help the consumer and that’s definitely not helping the consumer. So just take a letter and just send it off to the credit bureaus, and you will get it removed.

Justin Harrison 56:05
Okay, the next question comes from Lucinda, and she says: “Hi, on my credit score there is a listing that I don't know about. Please can you tell me how to find out who they are?” Dawie, do you want to handle that? When you want to maybe handle it.

David Bester 56:19
Yes – easy. Contact the credit bureaus, dispute it - I just showed you an example on My Credit Status, of how to generate a dispute. They legally have to come back and provide you with proof, if the user requests it. So, they will tell you the telephone number, the company name, the address, everything you need, and if they cannot give you that proof, they have to remove it as well.

Justin Harrison 56:38
Okay. Again, Sarafina asks: “What do you do when you get a new listing on your account from 2012 accounts, that you don’t even remember and they have never contacted you before?”

Again, I want to make this point, loud and clear. If you're a My Credit Status subscriber and you're getting your monthly report; you should be checking those reports and if you see listings that are coming up there or inquiries that are coming up there that you did not do, there is a very strong possibility that somebody is attempting to commit identity theft. And what they do is use your identity to access loans. So, I absolutely recommend that the moment you see these come up on your account, you have to log a dispute, immediately. And once you log a dispute, the credit bureau in question, will have to come back to you, and provide you with detail on the account. If that account or inquiry did not come through you, then you are able to deal with it and block it at the credit bureau level, almost immediately.

Also, Sarafina, just to answer your question here. You said that you subscribe to us but you’re getting some payment error messages. Please do us a favour, after this webinar, please send us an email at [email protected]. Just give us the errors that you're getting and our support staff will hop on it, immediately. Dawie and I will also follow up, and make sure that you have emailed us, and we will do our absolute best to help you out on that one.

Okay, so the next question, and Dawie, we're running out of time here, so we're going to have to push these through as quickly as possible. Maybe you want to handle this one?

David Bester 58:25
Yes, if you want to know your credit score; you can get your credit score at MyCreditStatus.co.za. I can't tell you how many messages we get on a daily basis, people asking us on social media accounts and on WhatsApp, is to send them their credit scores. Legally, we cannot do that; you have to do that to verify your account. When you get your credit score or My Credit Status, we actually don't know what your credit score is and we're not even allowed to check your credit score or go into your details. We have monthly compliance meetings that regulate this as well. And this is basically to safeguard you as the consumer and to keep your identity private. As we said, there's a big identity theft problem in South Africa. That is also one of the nice things about this, about this law, you'll know that your information is safe with us, and only you can actually access your credit score. And if someone else accesses your credit score without consent, it shows up on your profile, like I said, just dispute it with the credit bureaus. But if you want to sign up, yes, unfortunately, you'll have to do it on My Credit Status because you need to verify your identity.

Justin Harrison 59:34
Ja, I think what's really important for people to know and it's maybe something, we need to spend more time telling people about, because I don't think we actually tell people enough about this, on our system. We have a very hectic encryption system on our platform, so the moment you request your report because what happens is if you’re a monthly subscriber, every month you’ll log in. You'll say, get my report. And that report is available on a system for 72 hours; you can download it. You can email it to yourself, but it's only available on our system for 72 hours. But even so, it is so encrypted that we can't even get into it, we can't even access it, we can't see anything. And this is part of the National Credit Regulator (the NCR) is part of the licensing requirements. We have to undergo very strict licensing agreements, every year. We have to go through compliance, every single year. And the reason for that is to protect consumers information. We, as a credit reporting provider, are simply custodians of the data, we do not own your data, we cannot sell your data, we cannot share your data. And what makes My Credit Status quite unique is that we are not trying to sell people anything else. There’s a lot of places you can go and get your free credit report but you're going to be sold loans, you're going to be sold all sorts of things…

David Bester 60:05
Offers with 30% interest rates.

Justin Harrison 60:07
Ja, it's absolutely crazy. So, we are 100% consumer-centric, 100% consumer-focused and we don't just want to help you improve your credit score, we want to really help you become financially free. That is our mission in life. Dawie and I have committed every waking moment of our lives to help South Africans, improve their credit scores and financially free. Those who want to listen, those who want to be part of the journey; one of the most important places you can start is by getting your credit report and really starting to take that information very seriously.

Dawie, there's one last question I just want to quickly address, before we maybe get towards our closing notes. This viewer’s asked: “What are the email addresses for the credit bureaus?”

Well, it depends. There’s TransUnion; there’s Experian, there's a number of different credit bureaus but what you need to appreciate is that, if your listing is, there's a problem on Experian, there'll be a problem on TransUnion, there'll be a problem everywhere because all of the credit bureaus use a central database, and all the data has to go in there, all the data has to be coming out of there, so you won't get, you should not, get a different report from one bureau to another bureau. Fundamentally, the data will be the same. The way they present that data and the way they do this score ranges might be slightly different but it's all fundamentally of the same data. So, in terms of asking for the email addresses, my advice is just to go directly to their websites – either go to Experian or go to TransUnion – but my honest advice is, if you need to do disputes, become a MyCreditStatus.co.za subscriber and once you're a subscriber, you have a list. You have access to Dawie and me; you have access to all the tools on there for improving your score. We've got budgeting tools; we've got the dispute generator. There’s just so much stuff that we've developed in there. It will probably take an hour for me to tell you about all of it. So, really use the tools that are available to you. I see you are registered, so if you are registered and you have a problem, just click on the dispute generator; that’s the quickest way and we will actually provide you with all the details of where you need to go and do disputes. Dawie, in closing, is there anything you want to add?

David Bester 63:27
I think there was one thing that we missed or one comment. It’s pretty high up.

Justin Harrison 63:40
While you're going through that and trying to find that. Dawie, I’d like to give everyone a gift on here today. If you go to globalmoneyacademy.com, Dawie and I have written several books on personal finance. I’ve written a book, called, “Money Secrets’; ‘How to Retire Rich. Dawie wrote a book on how to make money with real estate; ‘Passive Income Secrets’; ‘Compound Interest Secrets’; ‘Cryptocurrency’; ‘Stock Investing’, and my latest book, which I don’t have on hand is ‘Marriage and Money. You can go to globalmoneyacademy.com, and if you use this discount code: ‘MCS20’, when you’re purchasing, you’ll received a 20% discount on any of these books. These are exclusively for everybody here at My Credit Status. Go an get yourself copies of these books at a 20% discount. The great thing is, you'll be able to access them immediately in both video and PDF format, so you'll have immediate access. We've had somebody professionally, narrate the books for us. So, if you're a lazy reader, like a lot of people are. I know that I'm a little bit of a lazy reader. You just have to sit behind the screen and watch the video and hear the content. Absolutely, go to globalmoneyacademy.com, use the discount code, ‘MCS20’ and go get yourself some of our books. Knowledge is power; knowledge will set you free and that is how you're going to get out of debt.

David Bester 65:09
Yes. I can't find that comment. I think the person deleted it. There's one last one, we can answer for Sarafina. She asked: “Is it safe to buy property now and what should we consider?”

Well, I suggest you go look at our webinar we did two weeks ago with a property expert; there was really good info that he gave. How to look at properties, how to evaluate properties, when is it a good time, what his predictions about the property market. That's a webinar on hit’s own. That webinar alone was about an hour. Just go to our YouTube channel or go to our website, look under webinars, you will find it there and you can watch it your own time, I see there was also a user saying that she came on a little bit late. We will be having another Q&A session pretty soon; we will announce it to you guys as well. We ask that you please ‘like’ the page and stay informed; we will let you know, on the page when we actually host these things. So, while you're at it, please click the ‘like’ button, like the Facebook page. And also, if you enjoyed the information, please just hit share and share it with your friends and family. We will greatly appreciate it and it will help us to get the right information out there as well. There's not a lot of information being shared around credit scores and credit reports in South Africa. There are tons being shared in the international market, especially in the US, but, as you know, it's a little bit different. In South Africa, we've got different laws governing our lending practices and our credit report platforms as well. So, yes, we want to get the information out there; the only way we can do it is by having you guys help us. So, we will announce the next one pretty soon. If you guys want to learn more about personal finance, we've also got a website called globalmoneyacademy.com. So, you can use that discount code to get more information out there. And then, apart from that, we also have the webinars, so please stay tuned to our podcast. There's a lot of information we're giving out, just subscribe to the channels, and you will get everything you need to get a great credit score.

Justin Harrison 67:09
Ja, absolutely. And Dawie and I are here at your disposal. We would love to be able to spend time with each person, one-on-one, individually so, I think this Q&A session is something we should definitely continue; it gives people direct access to us. I think in the webinar, sometimes when we’re presenting info, it's a little bit hard to get to all the questions. And so, I just want to thank everybody for their time and thank them for their questions. If there's maybe a more personal question, that you didn't feel comfortable asking, on the comments here, please message us directly on our Facebook page. You can also message us at [email protected] and Dawie and I will do our level best. I mean, if anybody knew the kind of hours that Dawie and I put into this business; nobody would really understand. We sit, day and night; we are absolutely obsessed with helping people; we're absolutely obsessed with delivering the best services that have ever been delivered to anyone in this country, in terms of providing access to their credit reports and credit information. So, please share this stuff with your friends and family; let’s help as many South Africans get rid of this debt burden, get rid of poor credit scores and really gain financial independence. That is our mission and we really hope you’re going to stay on board with us. So, from our side, hamba kahle; sala kahle; tot siens and we will see you in two weeks’ time.

[68:39 AUDIO ENDS]