Every time you take out any kind of loan through a formal institution, that company will disclose that information to the credit bureaus. Credit bureaus keep track of everyone’s debts. Every time you make a payment a day late, or you take out too many store cards, or you max out your credit limit, all of this information is reported to them. Debt is like high school, fam: there are no secrets.
Your credit report is a big deal and it can have a huge impact on your life. Every time you apply for a new kind of debt, or a subscription to something, the first thing a company does is check your credit report. Companies are required to do this by law, and you can’t stop them. Sometimes landlords will pull a credit report on you before they let you rent out an apartment. Potential employers are allowed to pull a report on you when you apply for a job.
On the upside, if you’ve got a good credit history, then you’re likely to get offered better terms for the loans that you do need to take. If you ever want a home loan or a car loan, the best way to get one at a good interest rate is to have an excellent credit history.
By law, every South African is allowed to get one free credit report about themselves, every year. There are endless stories of people checking their credit reports to find errors or fraud in them. Sometimes people check their credit reports to find that someone’s taken out a loan in their name, and now their credit score is shot to shit. You have the right to force the credit bureaus to correct any errors against your name, as long as you can prove that they’re errors. So, get your credit report every year.
There are a couple of credit bureaus that operate in South Africa that provide these reports, but they all have pretty much the same information about you. Pick one and order a report on their website.