couple reviewing finances

When to ask for debt counselling

If you answered Yes to any one of these 3 questions, you many need to speak to a debt counsellor:

  • Do you have multiple loans with different creditors, for example, home, car and personal loans as well as multiple credit and store cards? 
  • Are you struggling to keep up with your monthly loan repayments, even though you earn a regular income? 
  • Are you behind on a number of your credit or loan account payments?

What to expect

The whole idea of debt counselling is to help you get back on your feet by using all reasonable measures available to you through financial services and the National Credit Act.

The typical debt-counselling process might look something like this from start to finish:

Step 1

You approach a debt counsellor for an assessment to make sure debt counselling is the right option for you.

Step 2

The debt counsellor contacts all of your creditors for your latest account information.

Step 3

The debt counsellor uses that information to create a plan to help improve your financial situation. This can involve either lengthening the payment terms and/or decreasing the interest rates on your loans so that your total monthly repayment amount is less.

Step 4

The debt counsellor will negotiate with your creditors to reach an agreement. All matters require a court order, but if some creditors disagree with the debt counsellor, a magistrate must make a ruling.

Step 5

Once the plan has been finalised, you will make a monthly payment to a payment distribution agent (PDA), who will distribute the correct amount to each credit provider.

Step 6

Typically, the first two payments are used to pay the debt counsellor's initial fees and legal costs. Once that has been paid, only a portion of each payment will be deducted each month as a fee to the debt counsellor and the PDA.

Step 7

As you pay off one debt, the money that was allocated to that debt will be used to pay off other debts.

Step 8

Once debt counselling has been completed, which can take several years, most of your debts will be paid off and the remaining debts will be more manageable with your income.

Looking for more information? Download our brochure here.

Questions to ask about a debt counsellor

All legally practising debt counsellors need to be registered with the NCR.

Debt counsellors who have helped other people successfully are more likely to be able to help you. Do careful research. Ask your friends and family for referrals and look for independent reviews or articles on the internet to help you make up your mind.

Make sure that you understand the fees you will be charged and shop around to find the right deal. Some debt counsellors charge more than others.

A PDA plays an important role in making sure your monthly debt counselling payment is split properly and sent to each of your creditors. If the PDA makes a mistake, your creditor may end the debt counselling process.

All debt counsellors are obliged to follow the NCR Task Team's restructuring guidelines.