Yesterday I spent an excruciating couple of hours playing phone-tag. Why? My credit line on one of my credit cards was dropped because of an account that was sent to collections. It was actually an error – an account I had paid and closed was wrongly shown as delinquent. I could have saved myself a couple of hours of Sherlock-Holmes’ing about if I had just looked at my credit reports!Credit Report

Your credit reports are very important because
* it tells lenders how creditworthy you are and can affect how much interest you pay
* helps insurance companies in assessing insurance applications
* can help in tracing you if you have unclaimed benefits, such as pension or insurance claims
* can show fraudulent activity (for example, accounts opened that you know nothing about)
* can be used if you apply for a position that requires trust and honesty or involves handling cash

I don’t know about you, but I will feel very silly if I am denied an employment position or pay double of what my neighbour pays on his bond because of a mistake on my credit report!

There are 11 credit bureaux here in South Africa registered with the National Credit Regulator, but only 5 are full members of the Credit Bureau Association. Looking at your credit reports at these five bureaux (CompuscanConsumer Profile Bureau, Experian, Transunion and XDS) will give you a good overview of what is in your credit report.

You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the bureaux during a year. Something I do is get a free report from a different bureau every 2 months (so, 6 reports per year), so I have a good idea of what is happening with my credit and can catch identity-theft before damage is done.

How do you get your free credit report?
1. Click on this link of the list of Credit Bureaux in South Africa (the ones with full membership are linked, above)
2. Contact the specific Credit Bureau telephonically or go to their website (most have a big banner on the top saying something like “free credit report”

South African credit bureaux have records on 19.5 million credit-active consumers, approximately 9 million which are impaired! (1st quarter 2012) If you ask me, this is absolutely insane!

Only 120,000 credit reports were issued in the first quarter of the year – that is out of 19.5 million records! We, as South Africans are not taking advantage of this right given to us in the National Credit Act.

Do yourself a favour: Get a hold of your free credit report, regularly and have a look at what it says!

Kevin Mzansi