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MONEY CLINIC | I can’t afford a debt clearance certificate. What are my options?

It is important to keep in mind that the consumer is ultimately responsible for repaying his debt, whether or not he is in debt consultation/review.


A News24 Business reader has to pay R500 to receive a debt clearance certificate, but is currently unemployed. He writes:

I was under debt review and paid my debts. Now I am charged R517 for a clearance certificate. Is there another way to get certified since I am currently unemployed?

Benay Sager, director of DebtBusters respond :

Receiving a clearance certificate is an important and perhaps the most joyful part of the debt review/counseling process. The debt counselor (on behalf of a consumer) issues the clearance certificate once all requirements have been met. This includes all relevant paid accounts (in the case of a bond, bond refunds must be current) and there are no outstanding fees due to the debt counsellor.

It is important to keep in mind that the consumer is ultimately responsible for repaying his debt, whether or not he is in debt consultation/review. During debt counselling, consumers make a monthly payment to the designated payment distribution agency (PDA) (appointed by the debt counsellor) which then distributes the monies owed to the various creditors according to the agreed amounts.

It is important to keep a few things in mind:

  • During debt counseling, it is the consumer who pays his debt to his creditors via the PDA. The Debt Management Advisor does not collect or make payments – payments are strictly controlled by the PDA, which the Debt Management Advisor appoints.
  • In the context of debt counselling, although the consumer can pay the creditors directly, if he owes the debt counselor any fees (for example, for follow-up costs), then these costs would have to be settled before the delivery a clearance certificate.
  • Before the debt counselor can issue a clearance certificate, the debt counselor must be in possession of “released” letters for all credit agreements to ensure that the unpaid debt has been paid by the consumer (again , this excludes surety contracts, which must be up to date for the issuance of an authorization).

In this case, we urge the consumer to check the above points and understand/question the nature of the fees due to the debt counselor so that they can successfully obtain their clearance certificate.

Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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