Business & Economy

Monday, 04 May 2009 16:08

Those earning R8K to R15K pm are most in debt

{pp}South Africa’s largest debt counselling organisation has a range of mostly free solutions to help SA’s 6 million seriously indebted people

South Africa’s largest debt counselling organisation, Consumer Assist, which has a helpline 0860 21 22 23 and website with an interactive debt calculator says the most indebted people in South Africa are aged 25 to 35 and earn between R8 000 to R15 000 and on average it is going to take them anything from four to 12 years to get out of the debt hole excessive spending has put them in.

“It’s a very serious situation,” Andre Snyman, CEO of Consumer Assist – a National Credit Regulator approved helpline and debt counsellor umbrella service says. It is the largest organisation of its kind in South Africa. “These are often young, talented people; the cream of South Africa’s future and they are finding all their dreams put on hold because they went through a mad year or a few months of acquiring credit cards, store accounts, a too-expensive car and a home exceeding their means. “During that time they spent money like crazy buying what they couldn’t afford because low interest rates gave a false sense of wealth and then when interest rates went up, they were in serious trouble.” He says the Reserve Bank’s decision last week to cut interest rates is welcome: “It gives consumer’s breathing space to pay off outstanding debt.” Snyman says that those who have been cautious with spending still find themselves in difficulty. But amid the gloom is great news: “If you use a Consumer Assist debt counsellor, it is possible to pay off your debt in a third of the time. You’ll probably still be able to keep the car or home – or scale down versions and learn the sort of financial management tips that in future can lead to you acquiring wealth,” Snyman says. If you apply for debt counselling your vehicle and home cannot be attached for 60 days in terms of the National Credit Act and this often gives consumers the breathing space they and the debt counsellor need to structure an appropriate debt repayment package.

“Consumer Assist uses software approved by the National Credit Regulator for use by approved debt counsellors. We employ more than half of all of South Africa’s approved debt counsellors under our umbrella to ensure those in debt have further protections and find it easier to rapidly get a debt counsellor near them. “Perhaps the most important part of our service to the public is that we have a highly interactive website with a debt calculator where within a few minutes you can calculate your debt situation and see whether or not you need to use a debt counsellor. “We’ve found some who have used the calculator and are not in debt have realised they could be saving or investing more money and growing their wealth – it’s a very useful tool and none of the information is kept on the site, so it is completely secure and private.” If, however, the debt calculator shows what you already suspect, that you are in serious financial trouble, the website can direct you to a debt counsellor close to you. There is also a 24-hour call centre 0861 21 22 23 which operates 365 days of the year where basic questions can be answered and too, where agents can help direct you to a debt counsellor. The technology in the process is so sophisticated (and yet easy to use) that some of the most successful cases have been managed at long distance by phone or email. “One of our cases was a very seriously indebted woman in Cape Town who stood to lose everything; we put her in touch with a debt counsellor in Vanderbijlpark who helped structure a payment solution for her.”

Consumer Assist’s debt counsellors abide by the National Credit Act guidelines. They contact all creditors (companies or individuals the debtor owes money to) so that they delay action against the debtor. Then the counsellor, with the aid of the software helps advise the debtor on how to structure their payments so they pay debts off faster – while being able to maintain an acceptable lifestyle. Debts that might have taken the consumer five years to pay off, can be cleared within three years and the debtor starts off their life again, debt free, with a clean credit record and the sort of money management knowledge that ensures they don’t get into trouble again and have learnt the techniques to make clever investments to build wealth. As an example, once debts have been cleared, the former debtor now has extra money to plough into their bond and pay that off sooner which means potential for massive savings.


Contact information:
Andre Snyman
CEO Consumer Assist
082 449 6856
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012 654 6018

Issued by:
Charlene Smith
Communications Pty Limited
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011 646 76376 or 021 762 2656
Charlene Smith Communications (Pty)Ltd
Contact: Leila Beltramo
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: 021 762 2656

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