You and Your Rights: Credit Agreements and Contracts

Summary

  • Before signing a credit agreement, you do have the right to take the contract home and review it carefully before signing
  • A credit provider must exercise due diligence in determining your ability to take on, and eventually repay, your new debt
  • Credit providers may make copies but they  cannot keep your identity documents or bank cards indefinitely
  • Before you are expected to sign, the credit provider must explain the agreement to you in a language you understand
  • You are entitled to a copy of every document you sign as part of the agreement

Your Rights

Credit providers – like banks, micro-lenders and shops - have responsibilities. They can only lend money if they are registered with the National Credit Regulator. This protects consumers from being abused by people and organisations that lend money. 

Credit providers must:

  • Give you a quotation which is binding for five days;
  • Explain the contract to you in a language you understand;
  • Explain the costs and interest charges clearly;
  • Display their registration certificate clearly; tell you they are registered and include their registration information in the contract;
  • Make sure you can afford to pay back your new debt by carefully assessing your financial situation so they don’t engage in reckless lending;
  • Give reasons – written in plain language – if they refuse you a loan;
  • Give in writing the name and address of any credit bureaux that has given them information about your credit record;
  • Let you know before they send negative information to a credit bureau.

Credit providers may not:

  • Keep your bank cards or identity documents (although they can use them to confirm your identity or to make copies)
  • Ask you for your PIN code for your bank account;
  • Refuse to give you credit based on social prejudice – like because of your age; sexual preference, religion, race, gender etc.

Credit Agreements  (Contracts)

  • Never sign a blank form, as you may find yourself responsible for payments and conditions you haven’t agreed to;
  • Never sign a form with blank spaces that can be filled in after you have signed it – put a line through any blank spaces;
  • Make sure the contract doesn’t include a consent to judgement;
  • Take time to read through the contract carefully;
  • You have the right to take the contract home and read it before signing it;
  • You are entitled to one free copy of every document you sign;
  • Keep a copy of the contract and all the forms in a safe place;
  • You have the right to ask for a statement of your account at any time that must show how much you have paid and how much you still owe.