Know your credit history with help of a report

Lihle Mtshali

Lihle Mtshali

More than four million South Africans are negatively listed on the country's credit bu-reaus. Of those, one person in every four is not aware that he is blacklisted and only finds out when a credit application is turned down.

"The reason for this is that our system is flawed because judgements can be taken against debtors in their absence," said Michael Bou-chier, managing director at Credit Health.

The National Credit Act, which seeks to protect consumers taking credit, made provision last September for consumers to access their credit reports for free.

"Consumers have a right to obtain a copy of their credit report once a year, provided they apply in the month of their birth," said Natasha Horwitz, marketing manager at Experian Credit Bureau.

A credit report contains a consumer's personal informationand credit history - whether the consumer pays accounts on time or not - and is stored by credit bureaus.

Credit bureaus are companies that keep credit profiles on individuals and businesses. They provide information on past credit behaviour to help companies to decide whether to grant credit or not.

Experian and TransUnion ITC, the country's biggest credit bureaus, offer a paid-for service that allows individuals to access additional credit reports outside of their birth month.