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How to check if you are blacklisted (+ what to look for)

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Young woman sitting on a couch, looking at her 'blacklisted' status on her phone with a shocked expression

Being blacklisted in South Africa can have serious financial implications and can make it difficult to access credit.

Therefore, it’s important to know whether you are blacklisted or not. Fortunately, there are ways to check if you are ‘blacklisted’ in South Africa, either online or through other methods.

In this article, we will discuss how to check if you are blacklisted in South Africa and why someone might get blacklisted in the first place.

Let’s dive in.


The definition of the term ‘blacklisted’ in South Africa

In South Africa’s credit industry, the term ‘blacklisted’ is used to refer to individuals who have a bad credit score.

This means that they have failed to make payments on their loans or other financial obligations in the past, and as a result, their credit score has been negatively impacted. Now they don’t have access to credit.


A graphic with the definition of the term 'blacklisted' in South Africa


Did you notice that we keep using quotation marks? That’s because there’s no official ‘blacklist’, and being ‘blacklisted’ isn’t what it used to be. People still use the phrase to refer to people with restricted access because of the origin of the phrase.

To be honest, we’re only using the term ‘blacklisted’ in this post because that’s what most readers want to learn more about. A more appropriate phrase might have been ‘How to check if you have restricted access to credit in South Africa.


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How to check if you are ‘blacklisted’ in South Africa

In South Africa, people can figure out if they are ‘blacklisted’ by requesting a copy of their credit report from a credit bureau. Here’s how it can be done:

Step 1: Contact a credit bureau

You can obtain a copy of your credit report from one of the major credit bureaus in South Africa, such as TransUnion, Experian, or Compuscan.


A grapphic that features the logos and names of Credit bureaus in South Africa


Step 2: Provide identification

Before you can access your credit report, you must confirm your identity by providing the bureau with data that they can verify. This may include things like an ID number or address.

Step 3: Request a credit report

You can get a free copy of your credit report through the internet or by going to a credit bureau office. Some bureaus may charge for this service, so check before requesting it.

Step 4: Review your credit report

Once you have your credit report, it is important to go through it carefully and look for any signs of negative information or ‘flags’, which could be a sign of missed payments, late payments, etc. This will give you an idea of how lenders may perceive your credibility.

Step 5: Dispute errors

If inaccurate information appears in your credit report, you can dispute it with the credit bureau. They are bound by law to investigate and amend any discrepancies.

Shortcut: get a free credit report and check online.

Now you know how to access the right information, but how do you identify whether you’re ‘blacklisted?

That’s up next.


How does being ‘blacklisted’ appear on a credit report?

In South Africa, someone may be described as ‘blacklisted’ when they have several negative listings or flags on their credit report. Negative listings usually mean the individual has a poor credit score due to a history of late or non-payment of debts.

Essentially, having an awful credit score means that you’re ‘blacklisted’. So check your score, then review any negative listings to dig deeper.

Bonus: Check out — What is a good credit score in South Africa (+ examples)

Negative listings may include information such as:

  • Late payments — This refers to payments that were not made by the due date. Late payments are reported to credit bureaus by creditors and can stay on your credit report for up to two years.
  • Debt collection listings —This refers to debts that have been handed over to a debt collection agency for recovery. Debt collection listings can stay on your credit report for up to five years.
  • Judgments — This refers to court orders to pay a debt. Judgments can stay on your credit report for up to ten years.
  • Writs of execution —This refers to legal action taken to seize assets to pay a debt. Writs of execution can stay on your credit report for up to five years.


Other factors could also restrict your credit access. Things like an ‘under debt review’ remark or flag


A graphic that shows how debt review appears on a credit report. As a remark or a flag


In some cases, you might want to assess someone else’s creditworthiness.

Let’s see how you can check.


How do you check someone else’s creditworthiness (‘blacklisted’ status)?

In South Africa, an individual cannot verify if someone else is ‘blacklisted’ (has a poor credit record) without their consent. Credit reports are legally confidential and protected, meaning others need permission to access them.

If you are considering entering into a business or personal relationship with someone, such as a joint loan or mortgage, then you’ll want to check their creditworthiness.

In these cases, either party may request permission that allows them to access the other party’s credit reports.

Here’s how credit providers do it:

  1. They get the customer’s consent (generally done as part of the loan application process)
  2. The credit provider requests a copy of the customer’s credit report from a credit bureau.
  3. The credit bureau responds with a copy of the customer’s credit report.
  4. Credit providers conduct a credit assessment
  5. And finally, make a decision to approve or deny the credit application.


You can follow this same process.

Finally, let’s clarify how people actually get ‘blacklisted’. Remember, there’s no official list anymore.

Here’s a breakdown of what happens.


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How does someone get ‘blacklisted’ (for credit)?

Credit bureaus/credit reference agencies are responsible for conducting credit ‘blacklisting’. They document an individual’s credit history and payment behaviour to measure the risk associated with granting them debt. This information is then used to decide whether they are eligible for credit or not.

When someone demonstrates poor credit behaviour, their credit score is impacted, and they are effectively “blacklisted.”

Here is a general outline of the official blacklisting procedure in South Africa:

  1. The consumer defaults or makes late or non-payment.
  2. Banks and credit card companies notify credit bureaus.
  3. The individual’s credit reports are updated to include default information such as debt amount, date of default, and credit provider.
  4. The credit report is flagged with a negative listing.
  5. Since lenders use credit reports to assess an individual’s creditworthiness, a poor credit score (‘blacklist’ status) hinders their access to credit and loans.


Why you might get blacklisted in South Africa

There are many reasons why someone might find themselves blacklisted in South Africa. Typically, it results from not paying your bills on time or failing to pay them altogether.

These include:

  • Not paying for goods and services on time,
  • failing to pay utility bills,
  • defaulting on loans and credit cards,
  • Over-reliance on credit (using all of the credit available to you all of the time)
  • and more.


Furthermore, unlawful activities can get an individual blacklisted. Therefore, people need to comprehend the possible implications of their actions to stay off any potential blacklist.


Final thoughts

Brilliant. We learnt a lot about ‘blacklisting’ in South Africa today.

Now you know that it is all about credit behaviour and that your credit score is a good indicator of whether you’re ‘blacklisted’ or not.

Debt problems often lead to bad credit scores. So a good place to start is by taking care of your debt. My Debt Hero can help.

Our service reduces debt repayments to make debt affordable again and helps people get out of debt. Check to see if you qualify.

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