Need help with your home loan? Act fast

This week the Prudential Authority of the Reserve Bank has announced proposals to relax the reserve requirements for banks so that they are able to free up some of the capital that they usually have to hold as security against any loans they grant.

This is especially good news for small businesses and for home-owners because it will give the banks more scope to restructure all sorts of debt, including home loans, and to advance more credit to help businesses keep going and retain their employees.

Meanwhile, all of the “big four” banks that account for most of the home loans in SA have already announced various ways that they are seeking to help home-owners and other borrowers, and those who anticipate that they will have trouble making repayments on their loans are advised to contact them as soon as possible.

The reason is that relief in most cases is only being offered to clients whose accounts are currently up to date. In other words, it will most likely not be offered to those who default on payments for the next month or two and let their accounts get into arrears before approaching their bank for help.

Here are the contact details for the various banks should you need to take a payment “holiday” on your home loan or will be able to make only partial payments for a certain period:

  • Absa – Home-owners who would like to apply for relief should mail bondrs@absa.co.za.

    The bank is offering opt-in payment relief to all customers whose accounts were up to date prior to the Covid19 crisis. This could take the form of reduced monthly payments for an agreed period or deferred payments for three months. However, interest will be capitalized for the relief period and the existing loan period will be extended, so those who are able to continue paying now are advised to do so. More details are available here: https://www.absa.co.za/media-centre/press-statements/2020/covid-19-payment-relief-programme/

  • FNB – Customers who need payment relief are advised to use the usual digital and assisted banking channels and a dedicated Covid19 icon on the FNB banking app.

    The bank says it will be providing relief across all types of loans and credit arrangements its clients may have from 1 April to 30 June, provided they are currently in good standing. It is also offering reduced interest rates on any Covid19 interventions and will not be taking any fees on relief measures.

  • Nedbank – Customers who need payment relief should call the dedicated debt relief centre on 0860 110 702 and home-owners who need help can also email HLCollections@Nedbank.co.za or MoratoriumRequest@Nedbank.co.za

    A comprehensive Q&A document spelling out what relief could be available and how to apply is available here: https://www.nedbank.co.za/content/dam/nedbank/Campaigns/covid19/Covid-19_PaymentArrangements_Q&A_2020.pdf

  • Standard Bank – Standard Bank was the first to offer instant payment relief to small businesses and students and now also has various debt relief options for other clients, including those with home loans. They can email debtcarecentre@standardbank.co.za or call 0860 123 000 or request a call back here https://www.standardbank.co.za/southafrica/personal/contact-us#modal

Anti-fraud

It is also very important that consumers do not panic and do not assume that any text, phone call or email from someone offering to help them restructure debt is genuine.

Most of these offers are from outright crooks, fraudsters and scammers who will claim to represent the consumer’s own bank but are actually just trying to get hold of their personal details and especially their banking pins or passwords. They should never be pressured by such people into parting with any details such as ID numbers, pins or passwords or into taking any kind of action regarding their money.

It is much safer for consumers who need help to contact their bank themselves. Genuine bank messages or calls from bank employees will never ask them to disclose security details such as their full passwords, pins, or OTPs. Banks will also never ask them to move money to a different “safe” or “special” account.

Most banks have fraud hotlines where consumers can report suspicious calls or emails.

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