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From the Desk of Corporate Rebels
“Update on the Credit and Collections Industry in SA”

Looking back on the COVID-19 situation we could not have foreseen this kind of impact, never mind plan for it. Many a debate if this event is a Black Swan event or not is doing the rounds. Irrespective if it is or not, it is disastrous and one can only hope that the industry does find its feet and begin to recover.

Various a Collection Agencies reported that their systems were not ready to let staff work from home (so called “Home Based Agents”). Software Service Providers worked round the clock to help Agencies to get some Home Based Agents going but, with the expensive data costs in SA, everybody had to be careful as this cost was never negotiated with the clients. Prior to COVID-19 the collections commissions were already under pressure and now with extra software costs and huge data bills the future of smaller outfits are looking “sad” to say the least.

Credit Providers and Debt Collectors are both looking at “new” ways of interacting with Consumers using the excuse that they have no money to pay (real or not - the excuse is being used). Agents hardly ever had to cope with this situation before, this excuse was used in the past to “get you off my back” but now more than 90% of the time it is a fact. Consumers are suffering and Agents needs to be careful in their communication with the Consumers - nobody wants “Hostile Consumers” because their situation is not taken into consideration.

The other side of the coin is Agents earn their income mostly from commission on successful collections, not recorded excuses. So, the remuneration of the Agents needs to be looked at, imagine making calls the whole day and collecting little, resulting in little pay going home. Bottom line is that the person on the telephone trying to collect now needs all the help we can give them, in short, they need extra skills to be able to handle this “new” situation they find themselves in.

View the
ToolBox we created in order to help the Agents on the telephones: ToolBox
POPIA is here - so what do we do?

The President of South Africa has proclaimed that the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) will commence on 1 July 2020. This means that you will have 12 months from then to comply with POPIA. The wait is finally over and it is now time for us to take action.

But the big question is what action must we take?

We want to take practical and effective action that is going to achieve the best results at the lowest cost. There are many possible roads we could take over this 12 month period to get data protection right and it’s important to take the right one for our companies.

What action should we take?
he POPI Act has commenced and organisations need to comply by 30 June 2021.

Must our company (and I) comply with POPIA?
For many, the answer will be yes, but some may be surprised to find out that they don’t need to comply with the POPI. POPIA, unlike the GDPR, does not apply extraterritorially. Meaning that it only applies to companies inside South Africa. Essentially, if you are domiciled in South Africa or you process personal information in South Africa, then you need to comply with POPIA. In addition, the processing of some personal information is excluded. For example, if you are processing purely for a personal reason or as a household activity then POPIA won’t apply to you.

Do I have high-level awareness of the POPI Act?
Knowledge is Power. Having a high-level awareness of POPI is crucial in helping you decide what your next steps are going to be.

Am I the right person to be responsible for this?
Every company has an Information Officer by default and they are responsible for ensuring that the company complies with POPIA. If you are currently the Information Officer, now is the time to ask: “Do I want to continue to be the Information Officer?” If you’re not, the question is: “Am I the right person to be the Information Officer?” You might also be asking: “Who should I appoint as the Information Officer?”

Read More
How to Protect Your Credit Score During the Coronavirus Pandemic
“Screw your credit score if you can’t cover the basics” - USA

Taking advantage of financial aid isn't supposed to hurt your credit, but some consumers are being dinged. With the coronavirus pandemic sending millions of Americans scrambling to make ends meet, another type of economic fallout is bubbling in the background: consumers’ worsening credit status due to late or unpaid bills.

But making a bad situation worse, some credit scores are being mistakenly dinged by the very lenders that, thanks to the protections of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed in March, are supposed to be providing payment relief. The law lets you postpone payments on federally backed mortgages for up to a year, suspends all payments on federal student loans through Sept. 30, and—supposedly—ensures that your credit isn’t negatively affected if you take advantage of these provisions.

But reports of people whose credit scores are nonetheless wrongly being harmed keep piling up, both in media reports and in stories shared directly with Consumer Reports by readers. They include reports from consumers who say their credit scores dropped when they accepted—and in some cases merely inquired about—COVID-19-related mortgage forbearance, a direct violation of the coronavirus relief law.
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Credit scores shouldn’t crumble because of coronavirus - USA - Boston

For those still unemployed or furloughed because of the coronavirus pandemic’s business closures, or even those who are starting to return to work, economic hardships won’t go away overnight. The last thing people need is a bad credit score hobbling efforts to get back on their feet.

When the COVID-19 restrictions resulted in a wave of companies, restaurants, retail stores, salons and other services having to close in the name of safety, millions of Americans were plunged into a financial nightmare. Rents and mortgages couldn’t be paid, let alone car loans, credit card debt, utilities and other bills. There’s been some government relief in the form of stimulus payments and a cessation of evictions, but those can only go so far toward lifting fiscal burdens.

The CARES Act gave consumer credit scores some breathing room — if your account is current and you strike an agreement with a creditor to make a partial payment or skip a payment, that creditor must report that your account is current. This provision only applies to agreements made between Jan. 31, 2020, and either 120 days after March 27, 2020, or 120 days after the national COVID-19 emergency ends, whichever is later.

But what happens when that time is up? It’s back to business as usual, and late payments, missed payments and the like will be reported as such, negatively affecting your score.

It’s unlikely that, even with renewed employment, a consumer could get caught up with late rent or mortgage payments as well as bills in such a time frame, especially if they remain jobless beyond the pandemic period. Unemployment benefits must pay for current expenses, such as food and gas, and initial paychecks will also have to cover necessities before tackling missed payments.

As such, credit scores will take a hit, which could result in higher interest on loans, credit cards and mortgages. A poor score could even have a deleterious effect on securing a job or place to live.

In a bid to be helpful, the three major credit bureaus — TransUnion TRU, Equifax and Experian — are offering free weekly online credit reports from now until April 2021. Nice, but that doesn’t help to pay the bills, nor stop a late payment from being reported as such once the CARES Act credit time frame is up.
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