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The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is seeking a high court order to stop banks from unilaterally taking money from customers’ savings accounts to settle outstanding balances on their credit agreements — a practice which the regulator says is widespread. The application has been brought against Standard Bank, but the regulator has welcomed complaints from consumers pertaining to other banks. Standard Bank would oppose the application, a spokesperson said. "The position of the NCR is that a bank must obtain a consumer’s authorisation to transfer funds from the consumer’s savings account to settle the debt owed to the bank under a credit agreement," said Nthupang Magolego, senior legal adviser at the NCR. Failing to obtain consent could place the consumer in financial difficulty with little money to pay other creditors, Magolego said. The regulator is seeking an order declaring that provisions of the National Credit Act supersede common law "set-off", whereby a consumer’s debt is sati...

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