In this episode we speak to David Bester, My Credit Status' Chief Analytical Officer.
David explains how you can use My Credit Status (MCS) to get a great credit score. He also explains how your personal information is being exploited by other providers to sell you products with astronomical high interest rates. Listen to the full episode below now:
Important Takeaway notes
The 3 main reasons people want their credit score are:
- See if they can apply for loans
- Want to see who has blacklisted them
- Want to improve their scores
They believe that improving their credit scores are extremely difficult and that only the rich can have a good credit score. But the opposite is true. With the correct knowledge, anyone can get a good credit score.
What sets MCS aside from the other credit report sites?
- Budget tool
- Recurring credit reports every month
- Video course called "20 Secrets to improve your credit score"
- Automatic dispute generator to dispute incorrect information
- 24/7 Financial service hotline
- Book with legal templates you can use to improve your score
- Then last but not least – almost every single credit bureau site out there uses your personal information to sell you financial offers, such as credit cards. We don’t do that. We believe your data should be private. With Facebook and Google selling our online information, the only privacy you really still have these days are your credit information. We protect it and we don’t use it to sell you offers for self gain.
Why are the credit reports not free on MCS?
We have to pay the credit bureaus to get the user’s information. In our case, we have to pay Experian. So yes, sites are giving out free credit scores, but they can afford to do that because they use your personal information to sell you financial products. We believe that your data should be private and secure. We are transparent, and we want to help you improve your score, not take out more debt with astronomical interest rates that will only end you up in a worse situation. So we prefer to ask for a small fee but give you the best results.
How can you improve your score with MCS?
If you want to improve your credit score, then the membership option is the best option to go for. When you sign up as a member, you will get your credit report generated for you. You can then start going through the video course, which is called "20 secrets to improve your score" to get the knowledge to improve your score.
If you follow these tips and use the automatic dispute generator, legal templates, 24/7 financial hotline and budgeting tool then you will see results almost instantly.
The steps are extremely easy to follow and each one is about 2-3 minutes long.
You will then get your report generated for you monthly so you can track if what you are doing is working. There’s no point trying to improve your credit score if you don’t track the results.
About David Bester
David has over 10 years of experience in digital marketing. One of his primary functions is to ensure that My Credit Status offers a seamless user experience for South Africa consumers. He is also responsible for all new features that offers more value to our consumers.
[00:00] Welcome to the official podcast from mycreditstatus.co.za, We will be introducing you to credit experts who will be providing valuable insight and advice from your financial health to improving your credit status and score.Your host for the show is Laura Palmieri.
Laura: [00:19] Welcome to the series of interviews giving you an insiders look at My Credit Status. In our last podcast, we went through all the security measures we have in place to protect your personal information. We've been working hard to provide you with the best user experience on our website. There are so many exciting developments happening at the moment. In today's show, we'll be discussing these developments so let me introduce you to David Bester, who is the Chief Analytical officer at My Credit Status.
[00:46] David has over ten years of experience in the online field. One of his primary functions is to continually keep us up to date with the latest software, making sure that we remain one of the leading credit providers in South Africa. Okay. Hi David. Thank you for joining our podcast today.
David: [01:07] It's a pleasure.
Laura: [01:07] Alright, before we start off can you briefly explain what is a chief analytical officer? What is that [inaudible 01:15].
David: [01:13] Sorry Laura.
Laura: [01:17] No problem.
David: [01:17] Well, without making it very technical I simply look at the online behaviour of users on our websites and then I find ways to improve the user journeys. So in other words I make sure that our platform is easy to use and easy to navigate.
Laura: [01:32] Okay, that's actually, yes, that's actually very interesting. So basically you read all the information, you analyse all that information and you try and make it as smooth and streamlined for our users.
David: [01:43] Yes, so I basically look at where people get stuck in the process. If I can see they're having a hard time then I need to obviously go to the rest of the team and to developers and we need to find a way around it.
Laura: [01:55] Okay, fantastic. So when you look at consumer behaviour, what is the most significant obstacle people are having with their credit scores?
David: [02:04] Well, the single biggest issue for people is obviously to increase their credit scores, right? So there are three reasons why people come to our platform and number one is they are curious about their scores. Number two is they want to see if they are blacklisted and if they are blacklisted they want to see who has blacklisted them. And then the third one is they want to improve their credit scores. Now, in all these cases the final outcome is obviously that people want to have a good credit score because in the end they want to apply for a mortgage or vehicle finance or any kind of finance like that.
[02:40] So I find the biggest problem that they have is they think that it's extremely difficult. They find it very difficult to improve their scores. They think it's only the rich that can have a good credit score. However, I believe the opposite, with the right knowledge anyone can actually increase their credit score. It doesn't matter how much money you have. I've even seen that rich people have terrible credit scores. It basically comes down to lifestyle changes. I've seen people, for instance, we can take a person that earns two hundred thousand rand a month, but if he's living expenses is three hundred thousand rand a month, then eventually he's going to have a problem with his credit score.
Laura: [03:16] Okay, actually basically it doesn't matter how much money you're earning or not earning it's like you're saying it's a lifestyle change. It's something that can be fixed. Spending time on it you can actually increase your credit score, basically.
David: [03:32] Exactly, with the correct lifestyle decisions. It's easy to fix a credit score.
Laura: [03:37] Okay, fantastic. There are hundreds of credit reporting websites to choose from. What is it that sets My Credit Status aside from the rest?
David: [03:48] Well, there's actually a few things. Number one is we have a report that is very easy to understand. When we take some bureau's reports or the reports from some sites out there you almost need a doctor's degree to understand what's going on there. They basically just take a bunch of information, they compile it into one report and you have absolutely no idea what the codes mean or what is going on in your report. So we take that complex issue and we transformed it into a very easy to understand report. Then another thing that sets us completely apart from the rest is we actually give people personalised steps on every single section on their credit report that will show them where they can improve and where they are going wrong, and probably the biggest thing that sets us apart from everyone else is our membership option.
[04:34] So in the membership option that we've got, which is fifty nine rand a month, we have a financial service hotline, which is a 24/7 hotline that people can phone. They can ask any finance related question if it's related to finance or tax. We also then have an automatic dispute generator so let's say you've got an account at Foschini, right, and it's an incorrect amount. You can simply go on our credit report platform, under this amount you will see a dispute generator button. If you click this button it will generate a legal letter for you automatically that you can save to your computer and you can then just sign it and send it off to the credit bureau to dispute the issue basically. So you don't need any legal assistance for that you can basically do it yourself.
[05:24] Another thing we've got is also a budgeting tool where you can work out your budget and we've also got a video course called Twenty Secrets to Improve your Credit Score. No in this video course we basically take you by the hand and show you exactly how to get a great credit score. Then we also have a book that you can download. It's got a bunch of legal templates that you can use for yourself so you actually don't need a lawyer or any legal assistance you can basically do it yourself. And then last but not least every single credit bureau or credit report site out there uses your personal information to sell you offers such as credit cards or loan offers [inaudible 06:05].
Laura: [06:07] Yes, I've encountered that.
David: [06:07] Excuse me.
Laura: [06:08] Yes, I have encountered that, sorry carry on.
David: [06:10] Yes, exactly so let's say you've got a good credit score, right, then they know you got to qualify for that loan. So they show you the offer, but what I see many times is those offers are 27.5% interest rate. It's absolutely insane. I mean how can you help a person by showing them an offer like that? If you miss one or two payments it will set you back so far. Now the thing is, I mean think about this every single day our personal information gets abused, right, from Facebook, Google, all these places. The only information that you really have left that is secure and safe is your credit information.
[06:47] Now we don't sell or we don't use that credit information to sell your data. We actually, like Chris explained in the last podcast, we actually remove the information from our system completely.
Laura: [06:58] That's correct, yes.
David: [06:58] And that is probably the biggest issue or the biggest thing that sets us apart from everyone else in the industry.
Laura: [07:04] That is actually a big thing because I have I must say using some other credit bureaus I had encountered that. First off, I could not understand what my report stood for, where I was going wrong like you said, and secondly, yes, all of a sudden I was getting SMSs, emails, offering me all these deals and loans and that, which I never knew where it came from.
David: [07:26] Yes, and the thing is they also track your behavior. So if you eventually by some miracle get it right to fix your credit score, then they will start pumping these offers to you because they track it and they know that you've got a good credit score again and you are most likely to get approved by one of these offers.
Laura: [07:45] That's correct, so that is really from our side the fact that we don't keep that information, as Chris mentioned is a big plus.
David: [07:53] Yes, we are completely transparent about it and that's why we ask a fee for our reports as well. That's the only reason how these people who are giving free credit scores away are able to afford it, is they use your personal information to actually sell you the offers.
Laura: [08:10] Okay, so that actually comes into my next questions because we get a lot of users wanting to ask us why there's a fee for our credit report, why it isn't free. So this actually comes into play with what you're saying now as well.
David: [08:22] Yes, exactly so the first thing is we have to pay the credit bureaus to get your data from them, right. Now, that is how the credit bureaus obviously make money because they also need to make money in order to stay in business. So not only do some of them actually sell you the offers, but another way for them to generate money is by using people like us to pay for the information. So we have to pay to get a user's information from the credit bureaus, so that is one of the reasons why we ask a fee. The second one is like I just explained to you now is that we don't use your personal information to actually sell you these products. We are transparent about it. We'll rather give you your score, give you the tips, tell you where you need to improve and help you into the right direction, not by showing you offers which has a 27.5% interest rate because that will just kill the consumer.
Laura: [09:17] Yes, yes, absolutely. Okay, I hope that clears it up with a lot of people. There is a huge difference between free and a paid credit report. I think you've clarified
that very well.
David: [09:31] Yes.
Laura: [09:31] Okay. Currently there are three options to choose from when consumers are looking for their credit reports on My Credit Status. Can you explain the difference between them?
David: [09:40] Okay, so the first one is a score only and this is for people who obviously just want to see if they will be able to apply for a loan and if they will actually be approved for a loan. The second one is the full once-off credit report. So you will get the score, you will see if you can apply for finance and then you will also get all the other information on your credit reports like the blacklist things, the phone numbers, your previous addresses, judgements, all that kind of stuff. And then we've got the third option which is the membership option, which I've already discussed as well. Basically with the membership option you get a report, it's automatically generated for you every single month. You get the 24/7 financial hotline. You get the video course which is called Twenty Secrets to Improve your Credit Score. You get the dispute generator, the budgeting tool, and the book with the legal templates you can get, so that is basically for a person who wants to improve their credit scores.
Laura: [10:41] Now these are actually fantastic options for the consumers out there to choose from.
David: [10:45] Yes, it's a lot of value that we offer for a very, very low fee per month. The membership option is actually less than the full once off credit report because we want people to improve their scores and we want people to make use of the system.
Laura: [10:59] Yes, that's true. Okay, so now the other very common question that we get is, how can consumers fix their credit scores by making use of My Credit Status?
David: [11:10] Okay, so in that case I'll obviously recommend the membership option. So when you sign up as a member you'll get access to the credit report which is generated for you automatically. Then I recommend you go through the video course. The video course will basically take you by the hand and show you the exact steps from beginning to end how you going to go about increasing your credit score. You can use the dispute generator to obviously dispute things that are incorrect on your credit report. You've got the legal templates that you can use. You've got the 24/7 financial hotline that you can use anytime and all these steps of the videos are only about two to three minutes long so it's very easy to follow and very easy to actually finish.
[11:57] Then every month after that you will also get a report automatically generated for you. The reason why we do that is you obviously need to see if what you're doing is actually working for you or if it's not working for you. You see there's no point in trying to improve your score if you don't track your results, that's like basically trying to lose weight without climbing on a scale, you know.
Laura: [12:17] Absolutely yes, that's true. That's a good example, actually. Can you let our audience know the latest developments that are taking place at My Credit Status?
David: [12:31] Sure, so we've got a few things in the pipeline, I obviously can't disclose too much, but it's mostly directed towards consumer education. Did you actually know that according to new sources that 80% of the people find errors on their reports and 25% of these errors actually cause harm to your credit score.
Laura: [12:49] That's a high percentage.
David: [12:51] That's very high and I've seen it very often. So we plan on launching more podcasts like this. Webinars, online video education and a few more online courses that will help consumers make sense of their own credit reports because that's what the biggest problem most people have is the lack of knowledge.
Laura: [13:12] Yes, that is the stumbling block I'm afraid and also from what I gather as well is all our videos and tutorials are set up in such a way that the consumer can actually understand it. We don't use these heavy legal jargon. We've kept it very plain and simple, is that correct?
David: [13:29] Yes, we try and make it as simple as possible to understand. In some cases when it comes to judgments and those things and obviously the jargon it's got to be there, and you know it's got to be very confusing. And in most of those cases we actually just tell people to get a lawyer instead of being overwhelmed with the information because it's very easy for people to see these things and get completely overwhelmed and then just leave it and do nothing about their credit scores which actually just gets worse by then.
Laura: [14:02] Absolutely, that syndrome of burying your head in the sand.
David: [14:04] Yes, exactly so we try and make it as simple as possible. For instance, the video course that we've got it's very simple, anyone can follow that. So there's actually no reason not to be able to improve your own score.
Laura: [14:17] Yes, that's fantastic. Now, our last question. What advice do you have for people who have a terrible credit score?
David: [14:24] Well, my advice is to start fixing it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, obviously the longer it's going to take you to improve. Fixing a bad credit score it takes time and more importantly it involves a lot of lifestyle changes. So not only does a terrible credit score obviously put you in a bad financial situation, but it also probably means that you're drowning in debt, right, and that also causes a lot of stress in your personal life as well, so my advice is get your freedom back. Get out of debt, fix your credit status as soon as possible and if you need help, My Credit Status can certainly help get you there.
Laura: [15:04] Fantastic. David, thank you for coming onto our show and to our audience we hope that you enjoyed this podcast. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. Be sure to visit mycreditstatus.co.za to join the conversation, access the show notes and discover fantastic content. Thank you.
[15:24] Thank you for listening to My Credit Status podcast. Make sure you tune into our next show where we will continue to provide you with valuable information about your credit health. We value your feedback, so we would love it if you can rate and review us on iTunes. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast so that you can be alerted as soon as a new episode is live. Visit mycreditstatus.co.za