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NCR loan shark raids in the Western Cape

HARD TIMES: Many people end up in debt due to overspending. As a result they end up approaching cash loan groups and loan sharks Photo: ALAN EASON
HARD TIMES: Many people end up in debt due to overspending. As a result they end up approaching cash loan groups and loan sharks Photo: ALAN EASON

Imagine giving up custody of your bank card‚ pension card or ID document to a stranger who escorts you to the ATM or pension point every month so you can withdraw your money before handing some of it over to them - along with your cards.

It’s both a criminal offence and a contravention of the National Credit Act for money lenders to do this‚ but many continue to do so as means of ensuring they get their money back - with crippling interest.

In its latest raid on such “credit providers”‚ the National Credit Regulator (NCR) confiscated 71 pension cards‚ seven ID books and from 22 operators in the Western Cape last week.

Five individuals were arrested‚ the NCR’s acting manager for investigations and enforcement‚ Jacqueline Boucher‚ said on Monday (today).

Consumers give up their cards to money lenders out of ignorance and desperation.

“The exploitation of vulnerable and unsuspecting consumers by credit providers will not be tolerated‚” Boucher said. “This is definitely not the last investigation of this kind.”

The 22 credit providers - operating in Wellington‚ Paarl‚ Stellenbosch‚ Strand‚ Woodstock‚ Robertson‚ Bellville‚ Goodwood and Wynberg - included many operating established businesses‚ registered with the NCR.

Ironically it will be a while before those pension cards‚ bank cards and ID documents are returned to their owners; they have been taken into police custody while the criminal investigations are under way.

Meanwhile the NCR will be investigating whether or not the raided money lenders’ are complying with the Act with regard to affordability assessments‚ overcharging and other NCA criteria.

When that process is complete‚ the cases will be referred to the Consumer Tribunal.

Meanwhile the credit providers in question will continue to operate.

- Wendy Knowler is the consumer columnist of the Times Media Group

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