Debt can be debilitating.
I remember a time in my life, just after my divorce, when I felt like the walls of everyday life were closing in around me.
I couldn’t pay my accounts, debt collectors were calling all the time, I was taking from Peter to pay Paul, and through all of this I still needed to keep it together and raise two young children alone.
It wasn’t easy. I felt like I was drowning. Those days were dark.
However, things changed for the better for me the day I saw an advertisement in a newspaper placed by a debt counsellor.
Sadly, this is not the case for everyone who has encountered debt review.
Over the years, I have seen the process of debt review get slammed as well as applauded.
I find that this depends on who the person’s debt counsellor is.
I believe that every industry has their good and their bad practitioners.
Like you get good and bad plumbers, electricians, doctors and lawyers – you also get good and bad debt counsellors.
You just have to do some work and research and figure out who they are.
To this end, I posed some questions to Sebastien Alexanderson, the CEO of National Debt Advisors, the debt counselling company ranked number on in South Africa right now.
Q: Does the process of debt review deserve the bad rap it sometimes gets?
A: Quite honestly - and it pains me to say so – yes it does.
Some debt counsellors screw up, but that doesn’t mean the entire industry should get painted with the same brush.
If someone chooses an incompetent plumber to fix a geyser leak, chances are they could run into more severe problem further down the line.
The geyser could burst and end up doing huge damage to the entire household.
The same applies to your finances.
It will stand consumers in good stead to seek out the services of a good debt counsellor who is registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR), whose company keeps an updated social media presence, and has positive reviews on sites like Hello Peter, in addition to one who deals with a registered payment distribution agency.
Q: Do you truly believe in the process of debt review?
A: I do. I sign huge batches of clearance certificates for our clients who have completed the process every week.
I get to see how excited they are that their credit records are clear and that they have the chance to start their financial lives over.
Q: If you had met me at my lowest point 15 years ago, how would you explain the product of debt review to me?
A: Whether it was 15 years ago, or now, the first thing I would do is explain the advantages of debt review, and then leave it up to you to decide if you thought it could be a viable solution to your financial problems.
Through the process of debt review:
–Your interest rates are lowered.
–Your payment terms get extended.
–All your debt payments are consolidated into one, which lowers the monthly repayment.
–Your assets are protected from repossession (if legal action has not commenced before you apply for debt review).
–Your creditors and debt collectors may no longer harass you. Your debt counsellor will now take over your debt. They will need to deal directly with your debt counsellor.
–By saving on your debt repayments, you will have more money available for everyday living expenses.
–You don’t have to find large sums of money for fees, as they are (as per the National Credit Act) worked into your repayment plan.
–Your stress levels will be greatly reduced and you will be able to function better at work as well as in your everyday life.
Q: All registered debt counsellors, payment distribution agencies and other role players in the credit market are regulated by the NCR. What should consumers do if they are experiencing bad service from their debt counsellor?
A: The consumer can lodge a complaint with the NCR by completing a Form 29 (that can be downloaded from www.ncr.org.za) and attaching all supporting documents and information to the complaint. The NCR will evaluate and investigate the complaint. Complaints can be sent to the email address [email protected].
Q:What should consumers do who are still getting some kind of an income, yet are struggling to pay their debt on time? And how much time do they have to do it in?
A: First things first, they should get an overall snapshot of their financial situation.
They can go to our budget planner page https://nationaldebtadvisors.co.za/budget-planner, insert their income and expenditure figures, and find out if they are over-indebted.
If they are, they should seriously consider the option of NCR regulated debt review with NDA It is always advisable to make contact with an NCR registered debt counsellor asap, before your creditors start taking legal action against you.
Debt review isn’t a quick-fix solution, and it might not be what everyone needs, but it isn’t a scam, and it has helped hundreds of thousands of South African consumers who are committed to being financially free.
Debt review is a viable option.
Debt review may not be the best option for everyone, but it can be a viable solution to your debt problems.
If you have had a bad experience with a hairdresser, it doesn’t mean all hairdressers are no good and you should stop looking after your hair.
The very same applies to debt counselling.
Do not let the incompetence of a few tarnish the entire industry and stop you from getting your debt and finances under control.