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  • Writer's pictureMFSA

Are you repaying a prescribed debt? Ombud cautions consumers about banks breaking the law

  • Some banks are tricking customers into repaying debts that have prescribed.

  • The Ombudsman for Banking Services has written off debt and returned more than R1 million to consumers because of this.

  • Read on to see when a debt prescribes, when the prescription gets interrupted, and what methods banks have been using to trick customers.

In 2021, the Ombud for Banking Services received 118 complaints about banks tricking consumers into repaying debt that should have been written off because it had prescribed. Debts taken out under the National Credit Act (NCA), such as unsecured loans, vehicle loans, overdrafts and credit cards, can prescribe after a certain period of non-payment. This means it has expired, and banks and other credit providers are no longer allowed to collect it.

However, Reana Steyn, the Ombud for Banking Services (OBS), has sounded the alarm about the rise in cases where banks are collecting prescribed debt. She said between January 2021 and July 2022, the OBS received and investigated 193 complaints about this.