South African consumers have the right, in accordance with The National Credit Act (NCA), to dispute any factually incorrect credit information on their credit report and to have the information corrected.
What should you do if the information on the credit report is incorrect?
The first step is to get a copy of your report, and consumers should note that South African credit bureaus are required to offer one free credit report to consumers a year.
The next step would be to thoroughly check the credit, looking for incorrect information. If the person notices incorrect information, then a credit bureau needs to be contacted to dispute the credit report.
It is important that the consumer supplies the credit bureau with the following documentation:
- Copy of their ID document or passport if a foreign national
- Proof of address that is not older than 3 months
- Any supporting documentation of their dispute such as a bank account statement or a settlement letter.
How long is the process to dispute the credit report?
The credit bureau’s investigation process can take up to 20 working days because the dispute has to be taken up with the data provider.
What happens during the investigation?
The credit bureau will contact the supplier of the dispute for further information and evidence relating to the data. During the investigation period, the dispute will be masked on the consumer’s credit report and the credit bureau and a notice that the dispute is being investigated on the credit report.
At the end of the 20 day period, if the credit bureau does not receive credible evidence to support the data, the dispute will be resolved in the consumer’s favour. Other credit bureaus will be notified of the outcome, and the data on your profile will be updated.
What else should you know?
- Credit bureaus will usually not process account updates (which is different to a dispute) that have occurred in the last 2 months.
- Payments made may sometimes not reflect on a credit report until the data supplier has sent the data to the bureau.
- If an individual is not satisfied with the final outcome of their dispute, then they can contact the credit ombudsman or the NCR.
- Consumers don’t need to pay anyone to change their credit reports. It is illegal as per the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and National Credit Act (NCA) to charge people to “fix” a credit report.
Is the credit dispute investigation an overnight process?
The simple answer is no. Consumers should be careful of companies that claim to improve credit scores and fix credit reports overnight, especially if an upfront fee is being charged.
If a credit repair agent helps to fix your credit report, they would need to follow the same dispute process that a credit bureau does.
Consumers should note that the only way they can affect your credit score is by paying your full instalments on time, using credit responsibly, and by ensuring the data on your report is accurate and up to date.