Crackdown on lenders

Some moneylenders have continued to contravene the National Credit Act by unlawfully retaining bank cards, ID books and pin numbers of consumers who acquire loans from them.

Some moneylenders have continued to contravene the National Credit Act by unlawfully retaining bank cards, ID books and pin numbers of consumers who acquire loans from them.

The National Credit Regulator and the South African Police Service have partnered to deal with money- lenders who continue to abuse consumers despite the provisions of the National Credit Act.

Last month, the NCR conducted joint investigations with the SAPS and the North West Consumer Affairs offices in Rustenburg and arrested three lenders for allegedly contravening the NCA.

The three were arrested for obtaining and retaining consumers' bank cards, ID books and pin numbers, which is a criminal offence as it is against section 133 of the NCA.

Jan Augustyn, manager for investigations and prosecutions at the NCR, said the SAPS and prosecutors would deal with the arrested money lenders accordingly.

He said the NCR would also consider its own enforcement actions against the three, which may include taking the matter to the National Consumer Tribunal.

Augustyn said the NCR was awaiting reports from its investigators, which might also point to, or indicate other contraventions.

Two other registered credit providers had in recent months been closed down by the NCT for retaining consumers' bank cards.

"There will be more of these investigations in different places to ensure that we root out this kind of behaviour by lenders," said Augustyn.

He urged consumers not leave their personal documents such as ID's and bank cards with credit providers because it was against the provisions of the NCA.

A campaign to educate consumers on the crucial aspects of the NCA was taking place at the moment and people are encouraged to attend the workshops by the NCR to deepen their understanding of their rights and responsibilities, said Augustyn.

"The workshops are meant to educate all consumers on the NCA so that they know their rights in the credit industry.

"It seems it is standard business practice by some credit providers to take possession of clients' bank and pension cards in order to withdraw monies from their accounts when their debts are due and payable," said Augustyn.

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