Friday, 14 July 2017

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

How do I stop being blacklisted?

How do I escape the fact that I am blacklisted? Sometime in 2011 I lost my job and was paying the furniture shop monthly for items I acquired on hire purchase. Upon realizing that I was unable to continue paying every month due to unemployment I requested the same shop to repossess the items and set me free from the chains of misery (bad payer record). Efforts to have the same items repossessed failed up until I had to go for years without paying. It wasn't intentional and only to find out that I’m blacklisted. My question is how do I deal with this? Are there any means of clearing my name and continue with paying now that I secured another job?

Unfortunately, you can't "escape" from being "blacklisted" because there's no such thing as being “blacklisted”. The records held on you by credit reference agencies simply reflect what happened in your past. It will show any bank loans you’ve had, hire purchase agreements you’ve signed, bank accounts you’ve opened, your complete financial history. That allows other lenders to make a reasoned judgment on lending you money.

You fell behind with your instalments and the store is entitled to submit that to the credit reference agencies because it's true, isn’t it? When you finally finish paying the debt they'll also record that as well. Maybe then you’ll present a more appealing profile to possible lenders.

More importantly, asking for the good to be repossessed won’t help you at all. In fact, it will only make the situation worse. The value of the goods you bought is now only a small fraction of their original price and an even smaller fraction of the total credit price you agreed to pay. Once the store adds on penalties and interest to your account, the amount repossessing and selling goods will raise will have very little effect on the amount you owe. The choice you have is whether you want to owe them money while you have the goods or whether you want to owe them money while keeping the goods. I suggest you keep the goods and contact the store and agree a repayment plan that satisfies you both.

Should I join Bitcoin?

Lately someone has been trying to convince me to join Bitcoin and I told them I have to ask you it's legitimacy first. Please advice. Thank you.

Bitcoin is a currency, but not like any currency we've known before. It's a digital currency, other times called a virtual currency or a cryptocurrency. There are no coins or notes with Bitcoin, no bits of metal or paper. Nothing you can put in your wallet or purse. Bitcoins exist purely in cyberspace and that’s confusing. What also confusing is the terminology used with Bitcoin. Terms like "blockchain", "distributed ledger" and "Bitcoin mining" are hard to understand unless you're an expert. There's also the simple confusion that your money is "out there" somewhere and not in your pocket.

Like all currencies Bitcoin’s value can go up but it can also go down. For instance, if you’d bought Bitcoins in November 2013 you would have lost 78% of your "investment" by January 2015. The value of a Bitcoin has now increased again but there’s no reason to think it will always go up.

Then there are security concerns. The technology underpinning Bitcoin is highly secure but anyone who says that a particular security system is fool proof doesn’t know their history. All security technologies will eventually be broken and if a flaw is ever discovered in Bitcoin's security mechanisms it would be valueless instantly.

The fact that it's completely unregulated is another concern. If a conventional currency like the Pula, dollar or Euro showed signs of failing, central banks can do things to support it but with Bitcoin, there's nobody to help you.

Another issue is that when you spend Bitcoins there are no payment protection mechanisms available to you. There are no rights to refunds. no chargeback mechanisms and Bitcoins are completely untraceable, that’s why they’re so useful to criminals and terrorists.

I think Bitcoin is fascinating and something like it is probably the future of money but you shouldn’t see it as an investment. If you have some money you can afford to lose then go ahead, otherwise you should be much more careful.

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