The National Credit Regulator (with the help of Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies) recently said it will tighten laws to protect people from dodgy money lenders. This will help, but a debt expert says even without unscrupulous lenders young people are getting themselves into debt because of ignorance and irresponsible spending. We spoke to two graduates who are blacklisted because of debt.
In debt but looking fashionable
Suria Jini is a 24-year-old recent graduate from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She says she has R6000 worth of debt. “It started in 2011 when I was doing my second year,” says Suria. The main reason she got credit was because she wanted to look fashionable like her university peers.
“It got to a point where I stopped going to clubs because I felt I was wearing the same thing.” Suria couldn’t afford to buy new clothes with the R800 allowance her mother sent her. She then decided to get a clothing store card and started buying clothes every month, even when she didn’t need to.
She thought she could pay the money back easily because she was only required to pay R150 per month. She was wrong. She also did not know that missing a payment meant her debt increased because of interest. “After two years of having the shopping card, I just stopped paying.”
Young and blacklisted
When Suria got a job early this year as a videographer at a property company, she wanted to buy furniture for her mother’s house. “That is when I found out I am blacklisted, and I cannot open an account with a furniture store.”
She blames the clothing store for her problem. “I believe that I was fooled because once I started to buy with the card and pay my monthly fee, my credit limit went up. It went from R1200 to R3000 in six months,” she claims. She also says that she was never asked for a pay-slip when she applied to get the account.
Suria wants retail stores to change their policies. She feels they are targeting students because they know they are under a lot of pressure when it comes to fashion.
When debt gets in the way of finding a job
Anelisa Ndoloshe, a 23-year-old woman from Alice in the Eastern Cape, is another graduate in the debt trap. Her problems are affecting her chances of getting work. After struggling to find work, she found a job as an HR assistant, but once the company found out she was blacklisted, she lost the job.
Anelisa got into debt in her first year of study. “As the new kid, I felt under pressure to look stylish; it was like everyone was competing to see who is the best dressed. That is when I started going to apply for clothing accounts.” She ended up having three shopping cards, and four years later, she owes over R10 000.
It’s stressful knowing that she sits with a degree and her debt is now the only thing standing in her way is debt.
What the expert says
Sadiqua Faliment of the Debt Experts in Cape Town says students should look at their financial situation before they open clothing accounts. They should also be disciplined when spending.
Sadiqua says Anelisa needs to find the nearest debt counselor for help. “She could get a court order that will seal the file that shows that she is blacklisted, so that she can continue looking for work. At the same time debt consulting company will help her find a way of paying the money she owes.”
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