Throughout 2017 there has been a huge spike in money lenders using SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) cards as collateral for credit. As of late, the National Credit Regulator (NCR) has been investigating these lenders after SASSA became inundated with calls from beneficiaries requesting proof of payment.
According to SASSA, money lenders who exploit South African consumers usually target pensioners and social grant recipients by offering loans that have high interest rates.
In recent cases, a SASSA recipient applied for a loan and the money lender requested that that she sign up for an additional card and a funeral insurance policy, neither of which she had wanted, but these were prerequisites to getting the money.
In another case, a recipient was double debited to “confirm” an account, and in other stories, recipients hand over their SASSA cards to money lenders as collateral, or money lenders continue to deduct payments long after the debt has been repaid.
Here are the facts about SASSA loans:
- Section 20(0) of the Social Assistance Act, 2004 (Act 13 of 2004) states that it is unlawful to transfer/cede or pledge your social grant, meaning that it is illegal to put your SASSA card down as collateral for a loan
- Money lenders can be arrested if they are caught in possession of payment cards used for surety for loans
- Money lenders are not allowed, by any means, to have pensioners documents in their possession
- A grant can be withheld, suspended or stopped if a beneficiary attempts to transfer/cede or pledge their grant
- A declaration of intent is being rolled out to be signed by new applicants. This is to declare the safekeeping of their AllPay cards (the cards on which SASSA transfers grant funds), ensuring that it is not made available to money lenders
When applying for a loan remember:
- It is required, by law, for any and all money lending firms to display their NCR certificate. If you don’t see one, or if you request to see one and it is not made available to you, this should be a waving red flag
- Credit providers should also display their NCR sticker on their premises
- Money lenders often ask recipients to move over from their AllPay cards to the EasyPay Everywhere cards. SASSA has made it clear that if recipients choose to do so they will “not be under the regulatory protection” of the state