Online advertisements promising to rehabilitate indebted consumers' credit records for a fee are often scams, credit bureau TransUnion said on Monday.
These advertisements could be found on online classified websites like Gumtree and OLX, fraud specialist Gayle Mower said in a statement.
"In many instances, the service being offered is a scam."
Mower said there was no easy, quick-fix way to remove or delete a person's debt record, or to rehabilitate a credit record.
"No unauthorised company or lawyer can simply remove negative data from the credit bureau, regardless of how much you pay them," she said.
Consumers could follow a simple process if they wished to dispute any information on their credit report.
They could start with a free credit report from a credit bureau, as every consumer was entitled to one free credit report from a credit bureau every 12 months.
"If there is information that doesn't appear to be accurate in the report, consumers can contact the credit bureau directly and register a dispute," Mower said.
"The bureau will then investigate, respond within 20 days and, if necessary, take remedial action."
There was no charge for the service and no need to work through an intermediary -- even those who claimed to have many years' experience "fixing" credit problems.
TransUnion advised people considering responding to advertisements about fixing credit records to:
-- Check that the service provider was a legitimate, registered business. This could be done through the National Credit Regulator's website as all legitimate debt counsellors had to be registered with it;
-- Be wary of any business or lawyer claiming to work for the credit bureau, and phone the credit bureau directly to confirm this;
-- Take into account that a legitimate business was unlikely to communicate with clients via WhatsApp or a non-business, social-media type e-mail, such as Yahoo mail or Gmail; and
-- Realise that a legitimate business was unlikely to support e-wallet transfers.