If a debt collector knocks, you need to verify they’re legit – except you can’t

  • Debt collectors must be registered with their regulatory body, the Council for Debt Collectors, to operate legally in South Africa.
  • In theory, you can check this registration status online. This is what the Council says – formally, in the Government Gazette.
  • But the registry isn’t actually available online, despite long-held claims it will be “soon”.
  • And good luck trying to confirm the status of an online collector.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

If a debt collector comes knocking on your door in South Africa, it is theoretically very easy to verify that they are legitimate. All you have to do is go to the website of the Council of Collection Agents (CFDC) and its “active register” and check them out.

As of November 2020, third party archiving shows that you can search this register by company name or registration number, surname or zip code.

If you found your debt collector there, you could ask CDIC for help if, for example, they threatened you or contacted you on a Sunday. If the debt collector does not appear on this register, you could have the makings of a criminal complaint against him, because no collector can operate in SA without registration.

By January 2021, the registry was gone, replaced by a message that it will be available again “soon”. Well over a year later, the same promise still appears, but the registry has not reappeared.

On Friday, that apparently changed, with the SADC declaring, by publication in the Official Gazette, that its register was open to electronic inspection on its website.

It’s not true.

All the website offers is a phone number to call, to verify a debt collector’s registration. In testing by Business Insider South Africa on Monday and Tuesday, calls to this number were never answered.

The Council offered to email the list of registered debt collectors, but warned it changed “almost daily”.

He said the listing was taken down because it was migrating computer systems. He did not answer any further questions.

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Tana T. Thorsen