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A report by the National Credit Regulator shows that the majority of consumers are in good standing with their creditors.
With 16,9 million records for credit-active consumers as at the end of September 2007 held by the credit bureaus, 62,3percent were classified "in good standing".
This figure was made up of 7,9 million (46,6percent) consumers being up to date with all their accounts and 2,7 million (15,7 percent) consumers having missed one or two instalments.
The regulator's (NCR) report shows that 6,38 million consumers (37,7 percent) have an impaired credit record.
The 16,9 million consumers have 50,98 million accounts with credit providers and other suppliers of goods and services. This translates into 3,02 accounts per credit-active consumer.
Credit records contain information on the manner in which they manage accounts. This information is managed by credit bureaus, which receive information from banks, retailers and other credit providers.
When a consumer applies for credit, banks, retailers or other credit providers normally obtain a copy of the consumer's credit record. This will indicate wheher the consumer manages his or her finances responsibly andif instalments are paid on timeor not.
A consumer who is up to date with accounts will qualify for further credit. But the credit provider will also consider whether a consumer can afford repayments or whether the new credit might cause the consumer to become over-indebted.
If a consumer's credit record shows many late payments, arrears or write-offs, or indicates that he or she is over-indebted, the provider might turn down the application.
The law requires credit bureaus to be registered with the NCR and to provide quarterly reports to the NCR.
According to the NCR, more than 88,5 million enquiries were made on consumer records during the last September quarter, most of them by credit providers. This was lower than the 115,6 million enquiries in the previous June quarter.
The information supplied by credit bureaus shows that more than 35000 disputes were lodged by consumers at different credit bureaus.
Nearly 60000 consumers obtained copies of their credit bureau report between June and September 2007, with 85percent of the reports provided free of charge. Consumers have the right to one free report a year.
The data-cleansing regulations of the National Credit Act defined different types of data that had to be removed from consumers' credit records. This ranged from dormant accounts, adverse entries related to debt of less than R500 and some paid-up judgments.
The regulator said that the credit records of more than six million consumers improved as a result of implementation of these regulations in 2007.