JOHANNESBURG – The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is urging credit providers to desist from retaining consumers’ cards and identity documents.

“As we head towards elections, all credit providers are instructed to desist from retaining consumers’ cards and identity documents and should return them to the owners,” the NCR was quoted as saying by SAnews.gov.za.

This as South Africa’s 26.7 million registered voters are anticipated to cast their ballot in the National and Provincial Elections on 8 May.

The credit regulator, which is an entity of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), urged all consumers whose bank cards, South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) cards and identity documents, which were taken by credit providers to collect them.

In terms of the National Credit Act (NCA), it is illegal and also a criminal offence for credit providers to retain any consumer instruments such as identity documents, bank and SASSA cards as a way to enforce credit agreements.

The regulator further appealed to consumers to report such matters to their local South African Police Service (SAPS) and the NCR.

“Consumers must avoid credit providers who require them to hand over their identity documents or cards before they get credit as this is usually coupled with reckless lending and overcharging.”

Between January to March of this year, the NCR conducted six raids together with the SAPS, where five criminal cases were opened.

During these raids 411 bank, SASSA cards and 37 consumer instruments (identity documents, passports and driver’s licenses) were seized.

The NCR, which was established under the National Credit Act, is responsible for the regulation of the South African credit industry. It called on South Africans to make use of its registered debt counsellors.

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