Photo: Gene Puskar/AP
Johannesburg – The National Credit Regulator (NCR) announced on Thursday that it has referred Wesbank to the National Consumer Tribunal for alleged breaches of the National Credit Act following an investigation into the bank's debt collection practices.

Wesbank, a division of FirstRand Bank, is one of South Africa's leading vehicle and asset finance providers.

National Credit Regulator's manager for investigations and enforcement, Jacqueline Peters, said in a statement that the investigation by the NCR revealed that Wesbank, through its debt collection agents, coaxed defaulting consumers into relinquishing possession of their motor vehicles.

"This procedure undermines the voluntary nature of the surrender process," Peters said. The National Credit Act allows consumers under an installment agreement, lease or secured loan to surrender the goods that they had purchased under these credit agreements.

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"The voluntary surrender procedure provided in the National Credit Act is one of the options available to a consumer who is in default under a credit agreement. The consumer also has the right to apply for debt review," Peters said.

"The typical example is motor vehicles that are bought under installment sale agreements which can be returned voluntarily by defaulting consumers to credit providers."

Peters also reminded consumers that credit providers can only repossess a motor vehicle from the consumer if there is a court order authorising the credit provider to do so.