We are constantly receiving queries from consumers under debt review asking if they can skip paying their debt review during this lockdown. This post is to try and highlight some of the aspects and to allow consumers to make an educated decision.
There is NO blanket payment holiday
Despite lots of stories doing the rounds on social media at the moment, THERE IS NO PAYMENT HOLIDAY for your debt payments during the lockdown. The banks have announced that they will look at the individual circumstances of each consumer ON APPLICATION BY THE CONSUMER, and make offers based on those circumstances.
This means that you will need to contact your bank directly, explain your current situation and ask them what assistance they can offer you. Any agreements that you reach with the bank MUST be confirmed in writing and forwarded to your debt counsellor as well so that they are aware of what changes need to be made on your file and distributions.
The second option is for you to contact your debt counsellor, explain the changes in your circumstances and let them have proof of any changes (letter from employer, payslip with reduced income, etc). The Debt Counsellor will then be in a position to issue a Form 17.3 and advise your creditors of your change in circumstances.
The creditors will not just blindly accept your, or your debt counsellor’s, word without any evidence. Make sure that you if you want to claim a 50% reduction in your income and therefore want to make less on your installment, make sure that you have proof that your income has reduced. Make sure that you provide all proof to your debt counsellor and keep copies for yourself. This information may still be needed in the future so don’t destroy it once the lockdown is over.
Timing and months to come
Most people should have still received a full salary in this month (March 2020) and the problems should only start materialising from April 2020 payments. Don’t rush to try and pay less this month if you have received a full salary, it’s going to get more and more difficult to maintain payment going forwards and it’s better to keep up to date as long as possible.
Your creditors will NOT just accept non-payment, there are many solutions that are being put in place, from reduced tax structures for the lowest earners, to TERS, to UIF Claims for reduced and loss of income.
Non-payment can still lead to a termination of your debt review and this can be devastating to you, especially if you have assets like a house or car included.
Our advice would be to do the following;
- Keep your paperwork in order and available
- Redo your budget and look at cutting whatever you can to ensure that you can continue to support yourself and your family at this difficult time
- Pay your debt in full
- If you can’t pay in full, engage with your creditors or through your debt counsellor to find some sort of middle ground and PAY SOMETHING
- Keep all engagement in writing and keep copies
Effect on insurance policies
Remember also that you may have insurance policies on your credit agreements. These are referred to as Credit Life Policies and you could have opted for these when taking the debt on. If you skip payments now, these policies could lapse and you then sit without cover.
On this point, rather than skipping a payment, ask your debt counsellor to check what policies you might have included on your credit agreements. You could then contact the creditor to try and put in a claim against the policy. This might help at least to cover a portion of your monthly installment. This, in turn, will make it easier on your cash flow.
Good luck, stay locked up if you can, stay healthy.
If you need any guidance or assistance, please comment below, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a Whatsapp to 0825232484 and we will respond.