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Check your credit score from your cellphone

Personal Finance

The credit bureau TransUnion has launched an SMS service that makes it easy for you to access your credit score and information from your cellphone, even if the phone does not have mobile data or smartphone capabilities.

TransUnion’s goal, says its senior director for South Africa, Garnet Jensen, is to help South Africans understand and manage their credit so they can take control of their financial health. The National Credit Regulator reported last year that less than three percent of South Africa’s 24.25 million credit-active citizens check their credit information at least once a year.

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Jensen says you can register for the service quickly and easily by verifying basic consumer information, which is further secured through validation of your cellphone number.

Once registered, you will have access to your TransUnion consumer credit score through an SMS short-code number. You can also access the information on your credit summary, such as the number of defaults, judgments, enquiries and late payments contained in your credit report. In addition, you can see your debt profile with TransUnion, as well as how your credit score compares with national averages among consumers listed with TransUnion. You can also request access to your full detailed credit report, remembering that you are entitled to one free credit report a year.

The SMS service is not free of charge, however. The following costs apply:

• Credit score: R15

• Credit summary: R10

• Latest account status: R10

• How you compare: R5

• Registration: 20c per 20 seconds

• SMS costs are included in the product cost

Lenders use credit reports and scores to assess your level of risk as a borrower and to calculate your loan repayments. Because of this, it is important to build and maintain a positive credit profile and adopt good financial habits like paying debts on time.

“We want consumers to stop being afraid of how lenders might view them and take control of their finances,” Jensen says. “Our job is to help them get clued up on their credit report and score and make positive changes where they are needed.”

To access the SMS service, dial *120*8801#.

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