OUTA has received numerous complaints from the public about a new round of threatening messages which read: “We have noted your refusal to pay your outstanding e-toll balance. Your vehicle details are being submitted for listing, and legal action will commence with costs incurred. Call 087 353 1490 Ref …”. These messages are linked to the non-payment of e-tolls and steers the receiver to a Cape Town based ‘Sanral Violations Centre’.
After receiving whistle-blower information and doing an investigation, OUTA has determined that the number on SANRAL’s “less60” website, along with the number appearing on the intimidating SMS’s, is being rerouted to a to a private collection agency “ITC Business Administrators,” whose employees appear to have been instructed to misrepresent the nature of their employment.
It is our understanding that these messages and this action on behalf of ITC Business Administrators are illegal in that:-
- The call centre agent taking the calls at the number listed (087 353 1490) indicated that they are employed by SANRAL, when in actual fact, they are employed by ITC Business Administrators, who are a private registered debt collection agent acting on behalf of SANRAL. OUTA then determined that each agent questioned is actually registered as a debt collector employed by debt collection agency ITC Business Administrators (Pty) Ltd. Furthermore, the calls are all answered as “Sanral Violations Centre”, which strictly speaking they aren’t.
- What makes matters worse, is that these SMS messages contain a direct threat of definite (“will”) legal action.
“Both of the above actions are in contravention of rule 5.3(b) of the Debt Collectors Code of Conduct, which reads: ‘In collecting or attempting to collect a claim a debt collector shall not: misrepresent the true nature of his or her business, or threaten to institute legal proceedings, whether civil or criminal, if there is no intention to carry out such a threat‘. Unless Sanral are prepared to follow through with this threat, they may not send these messages. ” says Ivan Herselman, the Director of Legal Affairs at OUTA. “Furthermore, the Minister of Transport is on record in July 2014, saying that criminal action cannot proceed against e-toll defaulters. In addition, the regulatory environment is not in place to enable or enforce non-payment of e-tolls through legal action. This is gross misconduct as per the Debt Collection Act and its regulations.”
It is OUTA’s opinion that the public need not fear these intimidating messages, as it believes there is no legal basis for enforcing the debt, which is why OUTA launched its e-Toll Defence Umbrella to protect its contributing members from legal action linked to non-payment of e-Tolls.
OUTA also intends to take action to combat the harassment and intimidation by SANRAL’s collection agents and in order to do so, OUTA encourages the the public to visit its web site here where they can register their dissent to this harassment. This will enable OUTA to commence with a mass-action campaign to put a halt to SANRAL’s intimidating messages.