Growing Backlogs Cause NCR Rethink on Clearance Certificates
The NCR has issued a Circular walking back part of a circular from a month ago which asked Debt Counsellors to prove each step of their work.
Debt Counsellors and consumers have laid complaints against some individuals and scam artists who are trying to trick people out of money to “get out of debt review” when they cannot really do so. These scams are numerous on Facebook and social media.
Some Debt Counsellors do legitimately offer this service to certain consumers who, for example, entered debt review long ago but stopped paying and fell back into bad habits again. If the consumer later manages to pay off their debts somehow then they qualify to have the credit bureaus remove the record of their debt review.
NCR Forcing Debt Counsellors To Break The Law
The National Credit Act (NCA) requires Debt Counsellors to do certain things within certain timelines. The NCR’s new process and the delays that were happening were causing Debt Counsellors to break the law. This is never a good thing since the NCR is actually partially responsible for ensuring that Debt Counsellors stick to the requirements of the NCA (not break them). By delaying clearance certificates for consumers the NCR was withholding the consumers’ right to access credit should they desire to do so. This is obviously not a good thing.
‘By delaying clearance certificates for consumers the NCR was withholding the consumers’ right to access credit’
While some argue that the NCR has already done so in the past, by telling credit bureaus to demand ‘paid up’ letters from Debt Counsellors in a process that is not mentioned at all in the NCA, this new process was even more direct and able to be laid at the feet of the NCR, should consumers begin to complain or take legal action.
Shotgun Vs Targeted
When the NCR decided to place a huge administrative burden on all Debt Counsellors across the country in an effort to target a small handful of problematic Debt Counsellors and non registered individuals it was almost immediately clear to most that a huge industry challenge was brewing.
The NCR has a specific unit that does monitoring and investigations. The complaints from consumers about these scams have been numerous and Debt Counsellors and DC associations have been quick to report any suspected issues. This is why it seemed strange to most Debt Counsellors when the NCR asked every single Debt Counsellor to add this big workload into their day and send proof of each step of their work to a tiny number of employees at the NCR. It seemed to be a shotgun approach to try to catch out a few non complaint people. The scammers in particular don’t actually do any work so they would not even be emailing the NCR anything anyway.
The NCR report in Circular #3 that they went through the information sent to them about clearance certificate requests and the people sending them info all seem to be doing a great job and are not abusing the process. It seems the crooks that Debt Counsellors have been complaining about did not email anything dodgy to the NCR.
‘It seems the crooks that Debt Counsellors have been complaining about did not email anything dodgy to the NCR’
Many Debt Counsellors felt disenfranchised by the requirement and resented it since there had been no industry wide consultation on the change and it seemed to have been put in place suddenly specifically to cause people difficulty in complying. While that may have been great to try to catch out a tiny number of registered individuals who were up to nonsense it was a huge burden to those who are actually trying to help consumers and just stay afloat. The workload on the Debt Counsellor’s side was arduous and required some debt counselling practices to hire new staff and train them specifically on how to handle the extra work.
Was the process doomed to failure from the beginning?
It was said 12 staff members at the NCR were assigned to checking emails and each attachment and then changing the statuses on the NCR’s system. But it was always going to be a mountain of work. Most in the industry predicted that the workload was going to be a lot more than the NCR team realised. Within 3 weeks the backlogs began to appear (after most people held back on doing such notifications for a week so…2 weeks really).
‘Most in the industry predicted that the workload was going to be a lot more than the NCR team realised’
To have hundreds of Debt Counsellors daily sending emails with info about thousands of consumers all to the same address day after day was always going to cause some issues. Especially when the email address only takes smaller email attachments (under 15m). If only 100 Debt Counsellors send 100 emails a day that’s 10 000 emails in a day. If each has 3 attachments that’s 30 000 attachments. If 10 NCR staff are checking the emails they need to check 1000 emails and 3000 attachments in 8 hours. Thats 125 emails an hour or 1 email (with just 3 attachments) in 30 seconds and then they still need to go onto the NCR’s database and make the status changes.
‘If only 100 Debt Counsellors send 100 emails a day that’s 10 000 emails’
There are almost a thousand practising Debt Counsellors at present.
Only Partially Undone
The current circular (which you can see and download below) only walks back the demand for proof of work for the part of the work specifically about clearance certificates. This was supposedly the entire point of the changes and now Debt Counsellors wonder why the whole process change has not been put back to how it was?
Download the Circular HERE