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Debt Collectors Act, 1998 (Act No. 114 of 1998)

15. Improper conduct by debt collectors


1) A debt collector may be found guilty by the Council of improper conduct if he or she, or a person for whom he or she is vicariously liable–
a) uses force or threatens to use force against a debtor or any other person with whom the debtor has family ties or a familial or personal relationship;
b) acts towards a debtor or any other person with whom the debtor has family ties or a familial or personal relationship, in an excessive or intimidating manner;
c) makes use of fraudulent or misleading representations, including--
i) the simulation of legal procedures;
ii) the use of simulated official or legal documents;
iii) representation as a police officer, sheriff, officer of court or any similar person; or
iv) the making of unjustified threats to enforce rights;
d) is convicted of an offence of which violence, dishonesty, extortion or intimidation is an element;
e) spreads or threatens to spread false information concerning the creditworthiness of a debtor;
f) contravenes or fails to comply with a provision of the code of conduct contemplated in section 14;
g) contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Act; or
h) behaves or acts in any manner amounting to conduct, other than that mentioned in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) or (g), which is improper in terms of a regulation.


2) The Council may in the prescribed manner investigate an allegation of improper conduct by a debt collector submitted to it in the prescribed manner or have it investigated in the prescribed manner by a committee of members of the Council or by a person or persons nominated by it: Provided that a debt collector whose conduct is being investigated shall be afforded the opportunity, either in person or through a legal representative, of refuting any allegations made against him or her.


3) If the Council finds a debt collector guilty of improper conduct, the Council may–
a) withdraw his or her registration as a debt collector;
b) suspend his or her registration for a specified period or pending the fulfillment of a condition or conditions;
c) impose on him or her a fine not exceeding the prescribed amount, which fine shall be payable to the Council;
d) reprimand him or her;
e) recover from him or her the costs incurred by the Council in connection with the investigation;
f) order him or her to reimburse any person who the Council is satisfied has been prejudiced by the conduct of such debt collector and to furnish the Council within a specified period with proof of such reimbursement; or
g) combine any of the penalties under this subsection.


4) Any penalty imposed on a debt collector in terms of subsection (3)(a), (b), (c) or (g) may be suspended, either wholly or partially, by the Council on such conditions as the Council deems appropriate.


5) The Council may in its discretion assign any of the powers conferred on it under this section, except a power referred to in subsection (3)(a), to a committee nominated by it in terms of subsection (2), and may rescind or vary a decision of such a committee.