billed after paying debt

THE debt-collection industry is infested with unscrupulous individuals who will do anything to get money from gullible consumers.

THE debt-collection industry is infested with unscrupulous individuals who will do anything to get money from gullible consumers.

Some collection agencies, including some attorneys, buy old debts from creditors to collect money on debts that are already barred from collection by the laws of prescription.

Puleng Montsisi and Nzwana Ndabeni paid their doctors and then received letters from debt collectors .

Ndabeni took his son to a doctor a few years ago and the doctor rejected his medical aid, claiming it was a tedious process to claim from medical aid and wanted cash. Ndabeni paid, but he still received a lawyer's letter.

"Attorneys Snyman and Vennote demanded payment and because I was too busy to investigate the bill, I paid it," Ndabeni said.

In 2007, Ndabeni's son was injured and he took him to the same doctor. He paid the bill, but three weeks ago he received a lawyer's letter demanding R1000.

Fortunately, Ndabeni had kept his proof of payment and faxed it to the lawyers.

"What makes me boil is that if I had not kept the receipt I would have been forced to pay again," he said.

Montsisi had a similar experience. She went to a doctor in Bloemfontein two years ago. Her medical aid was exhausted and they only paid a portion of the bill.

She was not aware of this and her account was referred to Creditworx, who trade as Snyman and Vennote. She then paid the bill and their collection fees, she said.

"A month later, I was shocked to receive a letter of demand from JL Jordaan Attorneys demanding R1500 on behalf of the doctor," she said.

She immediately called the doctor. He denied having referred her account to the attorneys.

Montsisi said when she called the attorneys they threatened her with legal action if she did not pay.

"Two months later, they sent me a summons even though I had sent them a letter from Snyman and Vennote confirming that the debt was paid in full."

Montsisi said they continued harassing her and said that they would serve a garnishee order against her salary.

"They have now served an attachment order against my salary," she said.

A Miss Barnard of JL Jordaan Attorneys said they were acting on behalf of Vericred Credit Bureau and would respond once they had received further instructions from them.

Kobus Olivier of Vericred Credit Bureau said the doctor had enlisted their services in writing and Montsisi's account was handed over to them for collection.

"LJ Jordaan Attorneys were then instructed by Vericred as per contract to collect this outstanding account," he said.

But the doctor still denies instructing.

Vericred later faxed Consumer Line the doctor's instruction.

Know your rights:

l The Debt Collectors Act prohibits the use of intimidation and threats.

Most violations committed by debt collectors include making false threats of legal action, creating a false sense of urgency and setting deadlines they have no intention of acting on. Threats of adverse credit reporting and telephone calls to employers to shame the debtor into paying are also violations of the act.

l The Council for Debt Collectors can be reached by calling 012-804-9808 or faxing a complaint to 012-804-0744. You can also e-mail