The global economic slowdown is putting pressure on businesses everywhere, and besides South African organisations publishing growth over the past year, the effects of this has not reached many consumers.

Since 2008 many businesses introduced cost saving measures. In some organisations this means shorter working hours, in others retrenchments. Some are cutting overtime while many are not paying bonuses.

Still others have shut their doors.

Whatever the measures taken the consequences are felt by the workers of this country. Many of us looked forward to a future of prosperity and wealth, toady that future looks very different.

Financial stress is having an impact on families and on work lives. The burden of excessive debt is leaving relationships broken and careers ruined.

Many consumers are faced with the challenges of excessive debt; their financial circumstances have changed dramatically due to tough economic times. Many South African’s are today afraid to answer their phones because it seems that the person on the other side is demanding money that they do not have, many are afraid to open their post because of letters of demand. Others are afraid of opening the front door because the person who is visiting could very well be the Sheriff of the Court with a summons for non payment of debt.

If you are one of these people, do no panic, you are not alone and assistance is at hand.

If you are having trouble keeping up with your debts, are receiving letters of demand or spending sleepness nights worrying about how you are going to cope with your financial burden, you will be pleased to know that you have protection.

The National Credit Act 34 of 2005, which came into full effect on the first of June 2007, is aimed at protecting consumers from the effects of bad debt.

The Act does this by preventing unfair credit and credit marketing practices and promoting responsible credit granting.

The Act also states that if a consumer cannot pay all his/ her obligations (credit accounts) per month after providing for himself/ herself and/ or his/ her dependants the he/ she is over-indebted.

Most importantly in these stressful times the Act provides for the consumer to seek assistance of a qualified debt counsellor to advise you on how you can get through this rough patch and still meet all your creditor obligations. By taking advantage of the provisions of this Act you can stop the letters of demand, you can answer your phone without fear and you can sleep better at night knowing that the Sheriff will not be at the gate in the morning.