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7 questions to ask your debt counsellor

By Opinion Time of article published Nov 4, 2020

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Debt counsellors can be an individual or family’s saving grace during very challenging times. They can guide you to getting back on your feet and on the path to achieving financial freedom. However, if you don’t do your due diligence when deciding on a debt counselling service, you could end up with more debt than you started. That’s why it is incredibly important to make sure you are making an informed and considered decision when choosing your debt counsellor.

Cyber Finance has put together 7 questions you should be asking a debt counsellor, before you sign up for their services.

Are you registered with the National Credit Regulator?

By law, all debt counsellors must be registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR) and they should have an NCR debt counselling number, which can be verified by phoning the National Credit Regulator hotline. The NCR monitors the conduct of debt counsellors, credit bureaus and credit providers. Once registered, debt counsellors need to follow all laws and advice given by the NCR, be 100% ethical and follow the NCR fee structure. Making sure your debt counsellor is registered with the NCR is the first step in choosing a debt counselling service.

Are you affiliated with a payment distributor?

Payment distribution agencies (PDA) approve your final debt payment plan, before you start your monthly payments. Debt counsellors need to be affiliated with a PDA, as it provides a second opinion on the payment plan created for you and they will advise on any concerns and suggested changes to the plan to make it better for you.

Are you being investigated by the NCR?

The NCR isn’t allowed to provide information on which debt counsellors are currently under investigation. However, it is advisable that you ask your prospective debt counsellor if they are being investigated or not. If they are under investigation, it means they have had complaints placed against them serious enough to warrant charges. It is advisable to seek other counsel if they are under investigation or ask them to elaborate on the charges placed against them.

What services do you provide?

Once you have checked that your debt counsellor is registered and affiliated with all the necessary organisations, you need to know exactly how they will be helping you and what services come with their counsel. It is important that you leave feeling hopeful that your counsellor will be able to help you pay off your debt in a timely manner so that you can work towards financial freedom.

Do you follow the NCR Task Team Restructuring rules?

If your debt counsellor doesn’t follow these guidelines, you are at risk of not benefitting from fee and rate concessions your counsellor can negotiate for you. These concessions can make a huge difference in your final payment plan. Therefore, even if they are registered with the NCR, make sure they are up-to-date with the Task Team Restructuring rules to make sure you are getting the best rates.

Are you using an accredited debt counselling system?

It is very important to make sure that your debt counsellor is using the most up-to-date software systems for debt calculation. If your indebtedness isn’t calculated correctly, it could result in your repayment plan being rejected. Paul Slot, the chairman of the DCASA, says that systems accredited by the NCR include Maximus, Eminence DC, DC Express and Debtwise.

Which attorney would you use to represent me in court?

It’s not always a given that you will go to court, but it is always important to make sure your debt counsellor has an attorney they know and trust who is proficient in the complexities of debt review matters who will be able to represent you in court, if needed.

Debt counselling is a very useful service that can be hugely beneficial to you and your family. The right debt counsellor can help you put your debt behind you and move on towards achieving your financial goals. Make sure you do your research before signing on with a debt counsellor so that you know you are getting the best service.

PERSONAL FINANCE

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