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You and Your Rights: Debt Collection


  • An individual previously convicted of an offence involving extortion, violence, or dishonesty, may not become a debt-collector
  • You can bring criminal allegations against a debt-collector
  • All debt-collectors must be registered with the National Council for Debt Collectors
  • Debt collectors are forbidden from spreading malicious rumors about the credit status of a debtor
  • Any violations of the debt-collector code of conduct must be reported to the National Council for Debt Collectors

Section 27 of the Constitution:

“Everyone has the right to have access to social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance. The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights”

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Legal Disclaimer

While every attempt has been made to ensure the information published here is accurate, the Black Sash does not take responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise out of the reliance on or use of this information. The contents do not constitute legal advice. This information sheet was last updated in February 2013.

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Your Rights

What is debt collection?

The National Debt Collection Act 114 of 1998 regulates the process of collecting debts in South Africa. Debt Collection is when an attorney; a person who is an agent of an attorney; or a registered debt collector collects, on behalf of the client, the capital amount plus lawful interest and the debt collectors fee.

Who is allowed to collect debts?

Section 8 of the Act says an attorney, or his or her agent, or a registered debt collector may act as a debt collector. A registereddebt collector is a person registered with the Council for Debt Collectors.

What debts can they collect?

A debt collector can only collect the capital amount of the transaction; lawful interest; and his or her administration fee and expenses. The fees are structured by the National Council for Debt Collectors.

Do debt collectors have to follow a code of conduct?

YES! Section 15 of the Act tells us what conduct would be considered “improper” or unethical. A debt collector is NOT allowed to …

  • Use force or threats against a debtor or any other person who has ties with the debtor;
  • Use intimidation against a debtor or any other person who has ties with the debtor;
  • Make fraudulent or misleading representations including:
  • Making or using fraudulent legal or official documents;
  • Represent themselves as a police official, sheriff, officer of the court or any person other then a debt collector.
  • Practice as a debt collector if he or she is convicted of an offence that has an element of violence, dishonesty, extortion or intimidation;
  • Spread or threaten to spread false information concerning the creditworthiness of a debtor;
  • Violate the provisions of the code of conduct.

How do I deal with an unethical debt collector?

You must report any unethical behaviour to the Council for Debt Collectors which is obliged to investigate any charge (as stipulated under section 15 of the Act).

If the Council finds the debt collector guilty of misconduct, then one or more of the following sanctions will be applied:

  • He or she may have their registration withdrawn;
  • he or she may be suspended;
  • he or she may receive a fine;
  • he or she may be reprimanded;
  • he or she may be ordered to reimburse the person to an amount set by the council.

Can I bring a criminal charge against a debt collector?

YES! Section 15 of the Act provides for a procedure to deal with unethical behavior or misconduct which does NOT exclude criminal prosecution

Useful Contacts

The National Council for Debt Collectors

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