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Blacklisting is a catch-all term to describe what happens when someone is denied credit due to a poor credit record, and although it is commonly used it’s seriously misleading.

“The term suggests that there’s a central blacklist. There is no such thing and you can’t get blacklisted. It’s a lazy way of trying to explain why someone was denied credit and it’s dangerous because it implies there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Marlies Kappers, head of marketing at DirectAxis Financial Services.

The reality is that credit providers, such as banks and finance companies, base their decisions on whether to lend you money on information from credit bureaus. These are companies that calculate your credit score based on your behaviour – positive and negative.

If you pay your accounts on time every month your credit score will reflect this and credit providers will look on applications more favourably. For example you could receive a better interest rate and terms than someone with a lower credit score. On the other hand, if you don’t settle your accounts, or you skip a month and pay twice as much the next month, this will show on your credit score.Marlies says that suggesting a low credit score means you’ve been secretly blacklisted by some shadowy organisation is not only wrong, but ignores two important points – you have a right to know your credit score and you can do something about it.

South Africans are entitled to one free credit report each year. You can get this from any of the major credit bureaus. The report will tell you your score and you can also check for any mistakes.

If you have a low credit score and there are no mistakes on your account, you can still improve your credit score over time by settling overdue accounts. This won’t clear your credit record, but will improve your score.

Reducing what you owe and paying off debt rather than moving it around will also positively affect your score.

“Remember your score is based on information found in your credit report. This includes your payment history, amounts owed, activity on an account, the age of your accounts, any judgements or defaults and enquiries about your credit worthiness. Ultimately it is your behaviour that determines whether a bank or other financial institution will consider you creditworthy. The score is just a reflection of that behaviour – good or bad,” says Marlies.

For more information and a short video on improving your credit score visit:

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