Credit Dot Cozaa

Credit Dot Cozaa shows the way

As at the end of March 2013 The National Credit Regulator statistics show the number of Consumers with an impaired credit record rose by 189000 to 9.53 million from 9.34 million the previous quarter. This represents 47,5% of all credit active consumers in the country! A further 15,4% (3,09 million) are 1-2 months in arrears.
 
Why is it then that almost 8 years after the formation of the NCR we are not seeing an improvement in credit performance?
 
We know that the average South African consumer is not financially astute, as such they require assistance in wading through the credit quagmire and this expertise and information is usually out of the reach for most consumers. Changing financial behaviour starts with an awareness of the problems that need changing, followed by the education and tools to drive the change, followed over time with the adoption of the new behaviour.
 
What South Africa needs is a financial wellness tool that is accessible, affordable and life changing, says Credit Dot Cozaa CEO Greg Brill, who has set out to fill this gap.
 
That tool has been launched nationally in SA, in conjunction with the DCI (Debt Counseling Industry), allowing Debt Councilors and Consumers easy access to this unique tool.
 
By using data from three credit bureaus, credit scores, debt risk indicators and an affordability index, Credit Dot Cozaa has developed the Credit Dot Cozaa Credit Status, which provides consumers with a view into what credit providers see when they perform credit checks. It is vital to note that this report reflects the information held at 3 major credit bureaus, as information held at one bureau is seldom exactly the same as that held at another bureau.
 
The Credit Dot Cozaa Status is a ranking that plots each consumer from A+ (Excellent) to an F (Poor), which for the first time allows consumers to really understand their credit standing.
 
But the process doesn’t end there. It’s all very well to know your status, but what do you do with it? Some statuses are easier to improve than others, says Brill. A judgment or a default may be difficult and costly to remove and often consumers only realise they have a credit problem when they desperately need the credit, as in when they make a bond application on a home or apply for a new job.
 
It is important to note that the information held by the major credit bureaus can save you, the consumer, from a range of problems regardless of your current status. For instance for a consumer with a poor credit record, currently under Debt Review, it is important to understand what is listed about them on their reports. Very often incorrect information or attempts by credit providers to obtain illegal garnishee orders or judgments are listed and would need to be addressed by their debt counselors. Alternatively consumers with excellent credit ratings are susceptible to Identity Theft. Regular examination of your Three Bureau Report can assist in early discovery of accounts being opened in your name indicative of ID theft.
 
 
Carol McLoughlin, Executive Director of the SAFPS (Southern African Fraud Prevention Services), stated in a recent press release “Being a victim of identity theft leaves not only financial repercussions but also a strong feeling of personal violation”. The press release went on to say that the SAFPS currently has a database which contains in excess of 37 000 fraudsters and more than 9 000 records of innocent individuals who have been victims of identity theft. Ultimately, 23% of all cases of fraud filed at the SAFPS were the result of impersonation. Statistics also indicate that the numbers of cases of impersonation filed with the SAFPS are on a steady increase. In January 2011 the total number of records of victims of impersonation stood on 3 054. By December 2012 this number had increased to 8 777 – almost a 300% increase.
 
Brill says: “If you are credit active, it ultimately means that you have a credit report and that your credit rating exists whether you like it or not, and if it is there, you need to see it. National Credit regulator statistics show that 5.22 million consumers apply for credit or financial services monthly yet only round 43 500 view their credit reports. We are not a nation of savers or financial planners, but you are not going to change a behavior if you’re not aware of its impact. Everyone has to see how their financial behavior is affecting their credit status because everyone needs to improve, maintain or protect their credit status.”
 
But the process doesn’t end there. It’s all very well to know your status, but what do you do with it? Some statuses are easier to improve than others, says Brill. A judgment or a default may be difficult and costly to remove and often consumers only realise they have a credit problem when they desperately need the credit, as in when they make a bond application on a home or apply for a new job.
 
Credit Dot Cozaa has made understanding this easier with the Status Simulator, which shows consumers those elements that are impacting on their status, allowing them to adjust each element to see how they can improve their status and then set these as goals in their improvement plan.
 
“We have added value and insight into the data; it’s not simply an individual’s credit report. Credit Dot CoZaa will track and monitor your progress for the duration of the plan with a wealth of support, from a personal credit coach to simple access to sound advice, catering for every consumer need from A+ to F.
 
“Credit Dot Cozaa is there to help people understand credit better so they can get better credit. We need to empower the consumer – this is a consumer rights issue.”
 
Credit Foundation of South Africa CEO, Randolph Samuel says: “Prior to the National Credit Act and the requirement for credit bureaus to disclose a copy of the consumer’s credit report, consumers were oblivious of what affected their access to finance. This placed consumers in an unfair and vulnerable position. Even today, seven years after the NCA, consumers find it difficult to access their credit report from all the credit bureaus and understand the information.
 
“Initiatives like this facilitate improved access and understanding of the credit report information and its impact on a person’s day to day money management. Any initiative that seeks to improve the financial literacy of South Africans receives the full support and endorsement of the Foundation.” 
 
Credit Dot Cozaa will offer instant, confidential credit reports with a free telephonic consultation to understand the report and your credit status.
 
Credit Dot Cozaa services include practical mini debt assessments and informative articles on the dangers of credit fraud – they have all your credit check bases covered and all this can be viewed online.
 
Brill says: “For consumers, Credit Dot Cozaa places the power back in their hands by empowering them to address their financial needs with an intuitive system; the accessibility through the internet and via Debt Councilors will make this a reality. This offering can be accessed at www.credit.co.za.”
 
 
Prepared by Chris Topping
 
For more information, please contact Greg Brill (Credit Dot Cozaa) on 011 847 9200 or e-mail him at gregb@octagon.co.za, alternatively you can contact Deborah Solomon (The DCI)  e-mail her at Deborah@thedci.co.za

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