Know your consumer rights so you can manage your debt, credit, insurance properly

People need to be more aware that their consumer rights are just as important as their human rights. Picture: Freepik

People need to be more aware that their consumer rights are just as important as their human rights. Picture: Freepik

Published Mar 15, 2024


Today, March 15, 2024 marks World Consumer Rights Day, a day which serves as a reminder to people that consumer rights are just as important as human rights.

While people may have heard of or are familiar with their human rights, there might be some confusion or lack of information surrounding consumer rights.

Keeping this in mind, here is a look at the consumer rights that affects people with regards to debt, insurance and credit.


Wikus Olivier, managing director, CreditSmart Financial Service said that consumer rights according to the National Credit Act, are a vital part of a person’s broader human rights.

The National Credit Act (NCA) states that all adult natural persons, and every juristic person or association of persons, has the right to apply for credit.

However, the Act also acknowledges the rights of banks to refuse to enter into an agreement with a consumer, as long as there are reasons for the refusal. The refusal needs to be reasonable and consistent with the law and the banks’ risk appetite.

“For example, the bank would be within its right to decline any application for a home loan based on lack of affordability,” Reana Steyn, Ombudsman for Banking Services said.

Get information that you can understand

You have the right to receive information in plain and understandable language, including an official South African language.

Members of the public are urged not to sign any documents if you don’t fully understand or you are uncertain about the content, fine print, and terms and conditions.

Know when your credit application is rejected

Members of the public also have the right to be informed when their credit application gets approved or denied, and if rejected, the reason that it has been rejected.

If your credit request gets declined due to your credit profile or score, for example, you can log a dispute with the Credit Bureau. The Credit Bureau has 20 business days to sort out your query.

Disclosure of information

Members of the public are also urged to never sign a blank credit agreement. Before you decide to sign a contract, ask for a pre-agreement which is binding for five business days.

This quotation should contain the borrowed amount, interest amount, deposit amount (if needed), repayment period, additional charges, etc.

The confidential treatment of your personal information

Credit providers should treat client information confidentially and should only use your information for the purpose for which it was given.

By law, you can receive a free credit report on an annual basis via a registered credit bureau and you are allowed to challenge any incorrect information that you might find on the report.

Avoid reckless lending practises

Credit providers must abide by proper affordability assessment guidelines at the time of your credit application.


Insurance is a must-have to protect yourself from a range of personal risks, especially in a time of crisis, according to Wynand van Vuuren, the head of client experience at King Price Insurance.

Van Vuuren said: “In recent years, insurers have been working hard to become more customer-centric, making it easier than ever for consumers to do business with them.”

While insurers work on the consumers who are the centre of their business, it is essential that consumers know their rights too.

Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) is legislation that governs the manner in which all financial service providers including insurers handle their clients.

According to the TCF, consumers have the right to:

– Receive fair treatment by their insurance provider and to feel confident that fairness is at the heart of the insurer’s culture which includes having claims handled quickly and fairly.

– Know that they are being sold the right products that suit their needs.

– Clear information about the insurance policy, and to have the insurance cover explained in simple terms that are easy to understand.

– Have no barriers to being able to change or cancel an insurance policy at any time, or to make a complaint if they are not happy.

– The right to register a dispute with the Ombudsman for short-term insurance.


If consumers are experiencing over-indebtedness then they have the right to apply for a legal, recommended service and process called debt review, according to Neil van der Walt, marketing manager, DebtSafe.

Van der Walt said that the debt review process helps consumers when they can’t make ends meet, to keep up with their debt payments.

Here’s a look at how the debt review process works:

– The debt review process starts with a consumer approving the process and completing the application form (Form 16).

– The process then goes through administrative procedures that are handled by a registered debt counsellor.

– Then the National Credit Regulator (NCR) will then issue a clearance certificate to complete the process.

According to Olivier, people can request reasons if their debt review application gets rejected, ask for a full disclosure of the process and written disclosure of fees applicable before your application.

IOL Business