FEW of us have a burning desire to find out our credit status. It's something that really comes to mind when we want to buy a house, finance a car or get a loan. But your credit worthiness can also determine whether you get a job, are able to take out insurance or whether you are approved to rent a home.
If you decide to buy your home, your credit status will determine how much your interest will be, with good status potentially saving you thousands of rands.
Information about your credit worthiness is captured by four credit bureaus - TransUnion, Experian, Expert Decision Systems (XDS) and Compuscan. They store your information for two years and make it available to all credit providers and others to whom you give your consent, including recruiting agents and the company you want to work for.
Your credit profile is likely to differ depending on which credit bureau is asked. And the information isn't always accurate. Your address or name might have been captured incorrectly - or differently at different bureaus - and if you have replaced a credit card you might find your old and new cards are captured as two accounts. Typically, two years' worth of payment history is recorded, after which information falls off the radar. Judgments, however, have a five-year life span. This is vital to know if you are wanting to take out a loan and you have a judgment or a default nearing the time limit. It may then be in your interest to wait until this has come off your record. Getting regular access to your credit report can protect you against identity theft as it lets you see who has been looking at your information and whether anyone has been using your identity fraudulently to get credit.
Credit bureaus are obliged to give you one free report in every 12-month cycle, but because access is usually made online, availability is limited to just a small percentage of South Africans and probably those least likely to need the information.
Also, typically, the information is complex and detailed and, for anyone outside the industry, difficult to understand, making comparisons between the different reports nearly impossible.
Kudough Credit Solutions is a credit report aggregator that provides instant access to your credit records as they have been captured by the different bureaus. While it has had an online presence for several years the company has started rolling out pilot operations at the Money Market counters of Shoprite, Checkers and Checkers Hyper stores, and this offering will soon be available countrywide. By consolidating your credit information from the TransUnion, Experian and XDS credit bureaus in one report, Kudough looks at your credit history, credit scores, debt-risk indicators and affordability indices and then summarises the critical elements, with your overall credit status represented as a ranking from A+ (excellent) to an F (poor).
As well as making your credit information easy to understand, the company also offers a free telephonic consultation to clarify the line items presented by each bureau, and helps to point out any discrepancies between them. They will also advise you on what to do if information is incorrect and how to go about improving, maintaining or protecting your credit status.