10/11/2010 Fraudulent credit cards which were confisticated from various FNB banks, during a discussion on the latest card fraud trends held in Sandton JHB. (960) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - Consumers should familiarise themselves with the Consumer Protection Act to prevent being exploited by lenders and service providers.

“As a consumer, you have the right to be heard, you have the right to redress, you have the right to be informed and you have the right to choose,” said Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Mzwandile Masina at the Consumer Awareness Imbizo in Ekurhuleni on Sunday.

Masina said that prior to the Act, lending institutions were self-regulated and did as they pleased with credit information.

“Now government, through both the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and the National Credit Regulator (NCR) has done away with that anomaly,” he said.

“When applying for credit, lending institutions must explain to you the cost, terms and conditions of your contract.”

Masina also cautioned against the practice of acquiring multiple life covers.

“Unfortunately, multiple life covers do not translate to multiple payouts in the event of death,” he said.

Instead, Masina advised that it was best to opt for credit life insurance.

“That way you will ensure that your family will not have the burden of inheriting your debt in the event of death,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the NCR, Nomsa Motshegare, said consumers had the right to be addressed in their own language when accessing services at financial institutions.

Motshegare also offered attendees advice on dealing with financial institutions.

“It is of utmost importance that you immediately alert your lending institution as soon as you encounter payment challenges. Do not wait to be contacted. You are able to negotiate your payment terms when in difficulty,” she said.

“Most importantly, do not lend from one institution in order to pay another,” she advised.

Motshegare added that her office was always on call to help all in need of its services.