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What is a Credit Bureau?

In terms of Section 70 of the National Credit Act (NCA), a credit bureau is an entity that collects, compiles and report consumer credit information filed from any credit provider for the purposes of credit scoring or credit assessment. 

What is the role of the credit bureau?

When a consumer approaches a credit provider and applies for credit, the credit provider will ask a credit bureau for your credit information.  A credit report is supplied to the credit provider for the purpose of drawing up credit scores. Credit providers use credit scores to determine the risk assigned to a borrower’s ability to repay their debts.

What consumer information is kept by the credit bureau?

The credit bureau may receive the following information in respect a consumer:

  • payment history and status;
  • information that is relevant for credit fraud detection and prevention;
  • payment history in terms respect of debt ceded or sold by credit provider to third parties;
  • information not intended for credit providing consumer credit.

The consumer has the right to access and challenge credit records and information kept by the credit bureau.

Read more about how to improve credit scores and understand the the risks of a poor credit score.

what are the Data Retention Periods for Credit Bureau Information?

The NCA prescribes the maximum periods for which consumer credit information may be recorded on the consumer’s credit record. Regulation 17(1) of the NCA sets the maximum periods for the retention of credit bureau information as follows:

Details and results of disputed lodged by consumers Number and nature of complaints lodged and whether complaint was rejected. No information may be displayed on complaints that were upheld. 6 months
Enquiries Number of enquiries made on a consumer’s record, including the name of the entity/person who made the enquiry and a contact person if available. 1 year
Payment profile Factual information pertaining to the payment profile of the consumer. 5 years
Adverse classifications of consumer behaviour Subjective classifications of consumer behaviour. 1 year or within fourteen business days after settlement by the consumer.
Adverse classifications of enforcement action Classification related to enforcement action taken by the credit provider. 1 years or within fourteen business days after settlement by the consumer.
Debt restructuring As per section 86 of the Act, an order given by the Court or Tribunal. Within the period prescribed in section 71(1) of the Act or until a clearance certificate is issued Click here for further clarification.
Civil-court judgments Civil-court judgments including default judgment. The earlier of 5 years or until the judgment is rescinded by a court or abandoned by the credit provider in terms of section 86 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 32 of 1944 or within the period prescribed in section 71A of the Act.
Administration orders As per the court order 5 years
Sequestration orders As per the court order 5 years or until the rehabilitation order is granted
Rehabilitation Orders As per the court order 5 years
Maintenance judgments in terms of the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998. As per the court judgment Until the judgment is rescinded by court.

If you feel uncertain about your information with credit bureaus, we can assist in the following ways:

  • obtaining your credit reports
  • studying the information listed on your credit reports
  • negotiating repayments to settle outstanding debts in order to have the information removed
  • identifying information that qualifies for removal
  • identify information that does not qualify for removal, and advise what can be done to remove this information from your credit reports.


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