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What is debt review?

Debt review is a formal legal process that helps over-indebted consumers who are struggling to meet their monthly debt obligations. A new affordable monthly budget and payment plan will be drawn up by the debt counsellor, showing a clear picture of your household spending vs. your income and a detailed plan on how you will pay up your debt commitments. A debt counsellor then approaches your credit providers on your behalf with a manageable monthly payment plan to be paid within 60 months (maximum).

It is important to note that household debt to income ratio in South Africa is amongst the highest in the world at approximately 72%. This means that, on average, 72% of the monthly take-home pay that South African households earn goes towards paying debt. Debt review otherwise known as debt counselling was introduced in South Africa as a formal legal debt relief measure under the National Credit Act (NCA) 34 of 2005 to then assist over-indebted consumers by applying for debt review and also to identify and profile cases of reckless lending with the aim to get the cases suspended.

Your money habits improve

This is arguably one of the most important benefits of debt review when compared with any other form of debt relief e.g debt consolidation. Listen closely, most of the time, after someone consolidates their debt, the debt grows back. Why? They don’t have a game plan to pay cash and spend less. In other words, they haven’t established good money habits for staying out of debt and building wealth. Their behavior hasn’t changed, so it’s extremely likely they will go right back into debt. But debt review on the other hand targets behavioural change with money. You learn to pay cash on all purchases and spend less. It stops one from borrowing and focuses on debt elimination. Personal finances is 80% about behavior and 20% is knowledge.

 Click here to learn more about the difference between a debt consolidation loan and debt review.


What do l mean by this? I am glad you asked. Listen closely, at Debt Sage we do not hold back any of our clients. Should you run into some money i.e. inheritance from the rich aunt and you want to pay off all your accounts and be off debt review, yes you can. Infact , we encourage our clients to pay extra when they can so that they can come off debt review as quickly as possible and realise their financial goals ( buying that dream house).  Yes its possible and we have helped many realise their dreams click to read here ​​​​what our clients say.

what are the Benefits of debt review?

  • Your assets are protected while under debt review. This is the most important benefit of debt review. When the debt counsellor approaches the courts to obtain a court order,  the rearranged plan is made an order of the court. This means that credit providers are agreeable to the rearranged plan and your assets are protected.
  • Interest rates on your debt commitments are reduced. 
  • You pay one reduced monthly manageable amount that pays all your accounts.
  • There is no permanent record of having applied for debt review once the Debt Counsellor removes you from debt review.

what is the Debt review process?

  • A consumer approaches a Debt Counsellor and completes a Form 16 application form for debt review.
  • Debt Counsellor informs the credit bureaus through the National Credit Regulator Debt Help System (DHS) and the credit providers that you have applied for debt review by way of Form 17.1.
  • Credit providers furnish the Debt Counsellor with certificate of balances of the consumers’ debt commitments.
  • The Debt Counsellor completes a financial assessment of your situation using the certificate of balances.
  • If you are over-indebted, the DC informs credit providers by sending Form 17.2 advising them that you are overindebted.
  • Within 30 days of your application, the Debt Counsellors submits a suitable repayment plan.
  • If accepted by credit providers, the consumer will start paying in line with the negotiated payment plan.
  • The Debt Counsellor will approach the courts to obtain a debt review court order which makes binding the rearranged payment plan.
  • Once you have finished paying off your debt, the Debt Counsellors issues a Form 19. This is known as a clearance certificate issued to a consumer after he/ she has satisfied all obligations under every credit agreement (excerpt a mortgage bond) that was subject to debt review court order.

How Long Will debt review last?

In general, most clients within 3-5 years are debt free and issued with a clearance certificate to exit debt reveiw. How long will one be on debt review will depend on a number of factors which include how much debt one owes, how much one can afford to repay on a monthly basis towards the debt among other factors. It is important to note that, the more one pays towards their debt when they are able to, the sooner they will be able to exit debt review.  Debt review is very flexible in accommodating additional payments so that one pays their debt quicker. At Debt Sage we encourage our clients to be aggressive towards paying off their debt so that they beocme debt free fast and start creating wealth.

Do you need debt review?

If you are really stretched and struggling to service your debt every month, it can be hard to know where to turn. We are available to help you find help in a way that’s best for you. We will guide you through the entire debt review process and help you deal with your debts and become debt free.


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