The Draft National Credit Amendment Bill was published this week for public comment. Among other things, it seeks to compel debt counsellors and the National Credit Regulator to tackle reckless lending. As the law stands, the regulator "may" refer complaints to a debt counsellor, ombudsman with jurisdiction, consumer court or alternative dispute resolution agent - or it "may" investigate. The bill proposes that the regulator "must" investigate allegations of reckless lending, and "must" suspend the agreement and refer it to the National Consumer Tribunal. As for debt counsellors, they currently need only check for reckless lending when you, the consumer, ask them to. Most consumers don't know to ask this of a debt counsellor, so most debt counsellors don't do it. The bill seeks to change this. It proposes that if a debt counsellor has a "reasonable suspicion" that a credit agreement is reckless, he or she must report it either to the NCR or to a court, and failure to do so will resu...

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