What does the future have in store for the collections industry? Last year, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) defined the industry. Credit providers devoted a significant chunk of their resources to reviewing and amending their IT policies and systems to ensure compliance.
With most companies now equipped to handle storage and processing of consumer data according to the new regulations, their focus must now turn to a new set of legislative changes. These are certain to have an impact on any player involved in the provision, collection or management of credit.
The National Credit Amendment Act, which was recently gazetted, will outlaw the sale and collection of prescribed debt after a certain period of time. Debt that has not been paid or acknowledged for three years will fall away.
Another legislative change in the pipeline is the amendment to the Magistrate’s Court Act, which would change the way courts function. This would make it more difficult for debt collectors to pursue cost-effective legal action against delinquents.
New rules may also be introduced around the granting of credit. These legislative changes would make the provision of credit more closely linked to affordability.
All of these changes should have a ripple effect on credit providers as many are sitting on books with high volumes of prescribed debt. In order to prevent this from happening again, they will have to change their strategies going forward.
One consequence of this is that we should see more companies pursuing the issuing of summonses and proceeding to judgment before debts are prescribed. The problem is that this would increase costs, especially for companies that have high volumes of customers.
Many credit providers could benefit from outsourcing their collections to third-party agencies as they provide the scalability necessary to work on large volumes of accounts with needing to hire more staff or implement costly new IT systems. An added benefit of turning to outsourcers is that companies gain the ability to compare agencies against each other and their own internal benefit to assess their effectiveness.
For companies that fail to either upgrade or outsource their systems and operations to handle the new legislation, the year ahead may prove to be a turbulent one.