Repossession of assets can be a stressful topic to even think about, but your most important right as a consumer, is that only the Sherriff of the Court may force you to surrender your possessions, by means of a Court Order. Should you fail to comply herewith, it would be considered a criminal offence and punishable by law.

These days consumers must be acutely aware of their rights, as Credit providers and collection agents become more tactical and creative when it comes to the collection of assets.

Collection agents have been known to impersonate the Sherriff of the court, in order to do collections on behalf of the Creditor. This practise is commonly used when repossessing a motor vehicle or movable assets like furniture.

Related: How Debt Review Works

The consumer may get a call from the agent requesting to “view” the vehicle. Please note that you do not have to agree to this request. Once the agent arrives at your home or workplace, they will demand that you surrender the keys to the vehicle, as they are there to collect the asset on behalf of the Creditor. You are not obligated to hand the keys to the collection agent, unless you agree to the repossession of the vehicle, which may then be sold on at auction.

This would be considered Voluntary surrendering of goods, in terms of Section 127 of the National Credit Act. You will not have the right to reclaim the vehicle until the full amount of the arrears due on the account, has been settled. The consumer needs to be aware that if the vehicle or goods is sold on auction for less than the outstanding balance of account, the Consumer remains liable for the shortfall on the amount recovered at auction. This balance may amount to hundreds of thousands of Rands in the case of motor vehicles.

Should you be in arrears on your installments and be contacted by a collection agent, contact the creditor immediately in order to make repayment arrangements. Where no affordable arrangement can be concluded, you will need to consult with a Debt Counsellor as a matter of urgency, before the Creditor proceeds with legal action on the account. Once you have applied for Debt Review, you will be protected from any further legal action and you will retain possession of the assets.