Credit score information now more accessible

Credit bureau TransUnion has launched a new USSD channel offering, allowing South Africans to access their credit score and information from any cell phone. Similar platforms only allow access to those with smartphones, however, TransUnion’s USSD service grants access to those without mobile data or smartphone capabilities.

According to the credit bureau this is the first service of its kind in South Africa to provide non-smartphone users access to credit information. In a country where only 37% of citizens use smartphones, this service allows the 52% of South Africans using traditional mobile devices to access credit information.

TransUnion highlighted that in 2016 the National Credit Regulator (NCR) reported that only 3% the country’s 24.25 million credit-active consumers check their credit information at least once a year.

Garnet Jensen, senior director for TransUnion South Africa, said: “Our goal is to help all South Africans understand and manage their credit so they can take control of their financial health. The new USSD offering makes it quick and convenient for consumers to keep track of and manage their credit health, make informed financial decisions and better prepare for conversations with credit providers during their credit applications processes.”

Using the service

TransUnion stated that the service is easy to register on through a few simple steps. You verify your basic consumer information, and this is further secured through the validation of your cell phone number.

Once you have registered, you will have access to your TransUnion consumer credit score through an SMS short code number. “A registered consumer can also access their credit summary information such as the number of defaults, judgments, enquiries and late payments contained in their credit report. In addition, USSD users can see their debt profile with TransUnion, as well as how their credit score compares to national averages among consumers listed with TransUnion.”

While this service offers access to a lot of information, there are services that you will need to access through the TransUnion website or call centre. The credit bureau explained: “The products provided over the USSD channel are limited from a format and security perspective. For example, a consumer would still need to go through our web or call centre channel to access their full credit report. The purpose however of the USSD offering is a quick and convenient way to keep tabs on key aspects of your credit information.”

The costs

There are costs associated with the use of the USSD service. TransUnion revealed to Moneybags the following costs per transaction:

  • Credit Score – R15
  • Credit Summary – R10
  • Latest Account Status – R10
  • How You Compare – R5
  • USSD registration charged at 20c for 20 seconds. SMS costs included in the product cost. Free SMS do not apply.

“To access the USSD service consumers need to use their cellphone. Dial *120*8801# and answer some verification questions. View available products and their costs. If you choose the ‘credit score’ option, for example, you will be required to SMS your ID number to 39250 to get your credit score. You will then receive your credit score information via SMS,” revealed TransUnion.

The accuracy of the information

If you have any questions regarding your credit score or the summary data provided by the USSD service, you can access your full credit report and compare the information. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report per credit bureau per year, after which you will be required to pay to access it.

As you are entitled to one free credit report per year, it may beg the question why you should use this service and pay for the information. TransUnion highlighted: “The key difference is that the free annual credit report does not contain a credit score or population comparison information. It does however contain the summary statistics as well as account balances, but again is only available once annually.”

“We want consumers to stop being afraid of how lenders might view them and take control of their finances. Our job is to help them get clued up on their credit report and score and make positive changes where they are needed,” said Jensen.

 

You can apply for a comprehensive credit report from Kudough, through our sister website Justmoney, here.