Debt Counsellors Left Scrambling By Last Minute NCR Changes

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NCR Debt Help System Changes Implemented Over Weekend

Debt Counsellors across the country received a late afternoon Friday message which dramatically affected how they operate which kicked in Monday morning.

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) has an online database which Debt Counsellors use to capture and update information about the progress of every consumer who enters debt review. The system is called the NCR Debt Help System or NCR Debt Help or DHS. In the past Debt Counsellors would log into the system and enter information and chose the appropriate status from a list. They were able to do so in a minute or two, with a click or two.

The system has faced some challenges over the years and the need for new features and updates often called for by those who regularly use it.

Big Change Over The Weekend

On Friday 4th of March, the NCR issued a new guideline and explanatory note about using the system and how they now require information to be emailed to them by all Debt Counsellors for all changes to all consumers on the system and that the NCR would now do the clicking (if/once they are happy with the documentation sent through to prove the change to the status of each consumer). Across the country, this change impacts on hundreds of Debt Counsellors and hundreds of thousands of consumers on the system. The changes became obligatory for Monday morning March 7th. Some Debt Counsellors who had left work on Friday afternoon already by the time the email was sent out by the NCR arrived at work on Monday morning to learn about the changes. This has presented many with significant challenges.

Some Debt Counsellors say they are worried about the NCR’s email servers which can only receive small emails at a time and no large attachments (eg court documents) that exceed 15mb. This has often proved challenging during electronic monitoring in the past when the NCR calls for a Debt Counsellor to send them information, documents and pictures about a consumer’s matter and the email has to be sent in several (eg 10 different emails with attachments and addendums with a reference sheet). When some emails bounce back it may result in challenges for both the NCR monitors and the Debt Counsellors in question as you can imagine.

Some Debt Counsellors are worried that the NCR have underestimated the amount of work they are offering to take on and may not be able to stick to the turn around times they are targeting (and that consumers will be demanding). 

Other Debt Counsellors were happy to see these changes (even if only temporary until the process is reevaluated in the face of the giant workload involved) as they hope to see it create real challenges for some people who are trying to remove consumers who have entered debt review from the debt restructuring process before they have paid off their debts. The new process certainly is much more labour intensive and will take much longer to send, document, record and make sure the necessary supporting information is sent through. While this may add a heavy work burden to already stretched Debt Counsellors it might also slow down such operations and help keep consumers who want to leave the process from doing so.

Note: Consumers can stop using the debt counselling process and stop paying off their debts through the process at any time but the credit bureaus will not change their “debt review” status for when credit providers go look at their credit reports. This will prevent consumers from gaining access to more credit (unless for a registered consolidation loan product). The credit bureaus will only make changes once the Debt Counsellor (with info from credit providers) has shown the NCR the consumer is ready to enter the credit market again and paid off their smaller debts. The NCR will then update credit bureaus. Some people want to ensure consumers are really locked into the process and cannot get more credit easily if they ever ask a Debt Counsellor for help until all their debts are paid.



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