Blacklisting over unpaid TV Licences — the one way the SABC could do it

The SABC can’t blacklist TV licence holders who refuse to pay unless it goes to court to get an order.

This is according to Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) accountability division executive director Stefanie Fick, who was speaking to eNCA regarding the SABC’s non-payment warnings.

A MyBroadband forum member recently posted a text message he had received from Revco — a debt collector acting on behalf of the SABC — warning him about a default amounting to R1,900.

The SMS read, “STOP a Trace Alert being activated on your ID at the Credit Bureau. Pay TV Licence NOW”, followed by the amount owed and the user’s account details.

Fick explained that only a court order could affect your credit rating as the SABC doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the National Credit act.

“The only way anything can have a bearing on your credit, in this instance, is if the SABC go to court and get an order,” she said.

Fick said the SABC’s approach to non-paying customers — or how it gets its message across — is not always in line with regulations.

“Subliminally, they want to send the message ‘you know what, if you’re not going to pay, we’re going to take action against you,’ and in certain instances, that may actually be in contravention of the rules because they can’t threaten people,” she said.

Stefanie Fick
Stefanie Fick, Outa head of legal affairs

According to credit bureau TransUnion, a trace alert is placed on your profile by a credit provider who has been unable to make contact with you.

Trace alerts have no bearing on your credit record, Fick told MyBroadband.

Debt collectors place trace alerts with credit agencies to be informed when the defaulting customer’s details are updated.

Fick had previously said that Revco’s tone in the message was concerning.

“It sounds very threatening, taking into account that a trace alert should have no impact on your credit record,” she said.

“Maybe [the MyBroadband forum member] should also complain to the SABC and to the Council for Debt Collectors, as the behaviour is inappropriate in our view,” Fick said.

She reiterated this in her eNCA interview, saying that any concerns over debt-related messages should be taken to the council of debt collectors.

“If you feel that the way that they deal with your case is irresponsible, lay a complaint [with the council of debt collectors] because there are certain rules that they need to abide by,” Fick said.

She added that those who know they owe money to the SABC, but think the amount is incorrect, should approach the SABC in this regard.

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Blacklisting over unpaid TV Licences — the one way the SABC could do it