Defaulting students will have their contact details handed over by tax authorities, Sars to NSFAS for loan repayment purposes.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) says it will use personal information obtained from the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to chase people who not heed to their call for repayments of their loans when they get jobs.
Last week, SARS last week permits NSFAS to have access to further non-financial information of former students with unpaid student loans.
“NSFAS will make contact with your employer to confirm employment and then contact you (the debtor) to discuss repayments in line with the signed loan agreement,” said NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo.
The information of those former NSFAS scheme beneficiaries registered with Sars will reveal the ID numbers, addresses, contact details and employers’ names. Sars revealed last week that the new provision falls the Tax Administration Act, which allows SARS to provide other non-financial information such as addresses and other contact details.
Mamabolo said defaults in repayments of loans prompted this move. “Most debtors were not heeding our call for them to inform us as soon as they find jobs, leading to us struggling to confirm if they are working or not. Sars will be able to assist us with that information, in cases where the concerned individuals are not coming forward,” said Mamabolo.
Students are required to start repaying their loans if they earn R30 000 or more annually. Payments start at 3% of debtors’ annual salary, increasing to a maximum of 8% when the salary reaches R59 300 or more per year.
NSFAS said action will be taken against former students who fail to repay while employed as the scheme is a registered credit provider.
“The scheme reserves the right to follow the normal debt recovery process which may lead to action taken against those who fail to repay loans even though they can afford to do so,” said Mamabolo.
Two months ago, minister of higher education and training, Blade Nzimande, said in parliament that NSFAS had spent R41.1-billion in loans and R20.4-billion in bursaries between 2000 and 2015.
In the wake of #FeeMustFall protests, the government raised its contribution towards NSFAS from R6.5-billion in 2015/16 to R11.4-billion this year. Part of the amount aimed at helping the “missing middle” students, whose parents earned over the required maximum to qualify for the loan, still couldn’t afford the fees.
Tax records, however will not be part of the information given to NSFAS.
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SCAMMERS are using a Wits student email account for internet fraud, known as phishing.
In a recent scam, students’ university email accounts were used as addresses to send fraudulent tax reports to businesses in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni . In a grammatically incorrect email, “SARS” requested the companies check attached tax reports and “confirm is up to date”.
Phishing is “the act of acquiring private or sensitive data from personal computers for use in fraudulent activities”, according to the Business Dictionary. It usually involves sending emails that seem to come from a credible source, but are in no way affiliated with the actual source. [pullquote align=”right”]”CNS is aware of the problem”[/pullquote]
The emails trick users into entering personal data, like bank details and home addresses. Phishers also create websites that appear to be operated by government agencies.
According to the Google Online Security Blog, phishers use a popular method, called “domain spoofing” for email phishing. The address in the “From” line of the email seems legitimate, but is actually a fake address.
Computer and Network Services is aware of the problem and has referred it to a research team, according to a spokesperson.
The phishing was first drawn to the attention of Wits Vuvuzela by the engineering company Ideal Patternmakers and Tooling Ltd in Germiston.
[pullquote]”why would I receive a SARS Receiver report from an academic institution?” [/pullquote]Other companies have confirmed that phishing is a regular problem. “We get about three phishing emails a week,” said Patricia Eales from Motrade 252 Ltd. Bronwyn Estman from Viking Foundry said they also received phishing emails asking for personal, banking and other details. The company immediately deleted such emails.
“The first thing I thought was: why would I receive a SARS Receiver report from an academic institution?” said Pieter Swart, financial director of the company.
Suggested ways to avoid Phishing scams:
1.Guard against spam
2.Communicate personal information only via phone or secure websites
3.Do not click on links, download files or open attachments in emails from unknown senders
4.Never email personal or financial information even if you know the recipient very well
5.Beware of links in the emails that ask for personal information, even if the emails are from companies you do business with
6.Beware of pop-ups.
7.Protect your computer with anti-virus and anti-spyware, firewalls and spam filters
8.Check your online accounts and bank statements regularly to ensure no unauthorised transfers have been made. Source: identitytheftkiller.com