Think twice before you ignore your mail.

During the festive season people tend to go a little overboard with credit card spending and often choose to forget about the reality that they have to repay this money, with interest, at some point in the future.

This trend of overspending is the cause of many people finding themselves in trouble when they cannot make a payment or two on outstanding credit and usually leaves the lenders on their hind legs.

If you find yourself in this situation it is important to remember that it's never a good idea to simply ignore the situation. By ignoring the issue in the hope that it will sort itself out or will disappear, only worsens the situation and your own position. It is always in your best interest to contact your credit provider as soon as possible in order to make arrangements to settle overdue payments, to halt any pending legal action that may be taken against you and prevent further legal costs.

It is also in your best interest to make arrangements for payment before any action is taken, but circumstances often dictate otherwise. If you are not in a position where arrangements can be made with the credit provider, the credit provider is entitled to take legal action against you to recover all arrears plus costs, by way of summons.

The first step that must be taken against you to kick-start such action, would be to issue a letter of demand in terms of Section 129 of the National Credit Act, in which you are remanded to bring the outstanding balance up to date. It is very important to never ignore this letter of notice and to contact a lawyer immediately to advise you in this and to determine the best way forward.

Many people have a misconception that it is a requirement for a credit provider or his legal counsel to prove that you have personally received this Section 129 notice, before they can proceed with further legal action. This point of view was however denied in the matter between Sebola v Standard Bank and the Judge found that the credit provider must provide more evidence than the mere fact that they have indeed sent the Section 129 letter by registered mail, by supplying proof that the letter was delivered.

The Constitutional Court found that this means that the credit provider has to prove only that the letter was sent by registered mail and that it has reached the correct post office. It is not necessary to prove that the debtor has personally received the letter, but only that the letter was delivered to the correct post office. This means that you cannot circumvent the law by simply ignoring your registered mail by not collecting it.

The ideal is to respond immediately when reminders of credit providers and / or creditors are received.

If you have any doubts about how to handle such a situation, please contact Lizelle Jacobs in George and Melissa Medea in Mossel Bay at 044 601 9900. www.rgprok.co.za / office@rgprok.co.za .