Glossary: A

This section explains terms you might have seen in other parts of this site or in communication you have received from creditors.

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Definition: Account

Current account
Usually provided by a bank or building society, a current account allows money to be paid in or taken out as you wish. A current account can help with budgeting and money management. Your account statement will show where your money is going and how much is left during the period of time the statement covers (usually around three months). Some customers will be given an overdraft, which means that the bank will lend you money if your balance falls below zero. But be careful when using overdrafts – any salary or wages paid in to your overdrawn account could be used up by the overdraft.

Under the Consumer Protection Code, regulated firms such as banks and building societies, must:
•    give you a statement at least once a year on any account with more than €20 in it
•    tell you how you can avoid costs on your account (such as penalty fees or penalty interest)
•    warn you about the risks involved in having a joint account

They must also ask you if there are any limits you want to put on the account. Limits include things such as needing the signature of both account holders to withdraw money and making sure any money you pay directly into the account is available to you on the same day.

For more information, see the Consumer Protection Code at

Basic bank account
A type of current account that doesn't usually allow an overdraft. Under the Consumer Protection Code, banks must not prevent you from getting access to basic financial services (such as a basic bank account).

Deposit account
An account for savings provided by credit unions, banks and building societies. The rate of interest  depends on the type of account you choose, so it is worth shopping around for the best deal to suit your needs. For example, some accounts will pay more interest if you leave your money in for longer and/or give the bank more notice before taking it out. Compare the AER (Annual Equivalent Rate) to help you compare like with like; or if depositing a large amount of money, think about visiting an independent financial advisor to help you make the right choice. For more information on choosing a reputable financial advisor, see Competition and Consumer Protection Commission – Financial Advisors. See also Compound Interest.

Under the Consumer Protection Code, regulated firms must let you know at least 10 days beforehand that your account will mature (come to the end of its term) if you have a term deposit with a term of 1 year or more. They must also give you a statement at least once a year on any account with over €20 in it.

Loan account
Any kind of credit/loan agreement. These include credit cards, store cards, personal loans, hire purchase, money lending and mortgage.

Definition: Actuary

An expert on pension schemes, life expectancy and risk for insurance purposes.

Administration Fee
Definition: Administration Fee

An amount you pay for the time it takes bank staff to maintain your financial product or service. All regulated firms must give you details of administration and other fees before you buy their product or service.

Definition: Advertising

The public promotion of a product or service in the media; including radio, print, television and other promotional materials (such as brochures and product information contained in leaflets and brochures). The strict rules about advertising credit to consumers in Ireland are set down in the Consumer Credit Act 1995. For more information, see

There is also further protection under the Consumer Protection Code which states:
•    financial firms must make sure that the name of a product or service does not give the wrong impression of its benefits
•    advertising must be fair and not misleading
•    firms must include a number of important warnings when they advertise for particular products

For more information on the code and who it applies to, see the Advertising Standards Authority.

Acronym:Annual Equivalent Rate

What your interest rate would be if the interest on savings was paid and added to your balance at the end of each year – although interest is frequently paid more often. The AER is worked out the same way everywhere, so you can compare the interest rates of different banks directly with each other. The higher the AER, the higher the return on your savings.


Affinity Card
Definition: Affinity Card

A credit card that allows you to support an organisation of your choice (such as a charity). Every time you use the card to buy something, the credit card makes a small donation to the organisation.

Definition: Agent

A person or company that acts for another person or company. For example, a creditor can hire a debt collection agent to collect money for them. They may also sell the debt to a third party, but you must be notified of this. Remember, the original terms and conditions of your original agreement still apply no matter who is collecting the debt. See for further information.

Definition: Agreement

A written or verbal contract or arrangement, which can sometimes be enforceable by law. Consumer credit agreements are regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1995. Agreements can sometimes be rearranged with a creditor if you can prove that you are unable to keep up with the payment amount set down in your contract. For more information on the rules governing credit agreements and tips on rearranging an agreement, contact the MABS helpline on 0761 07 2000. 

Approved Intermediaries
Approved Intermediaries

Approved Intermediaries (AI's)are professionals who are authorised by the Insolvency Service of Ireland to process DRN applications.  MABS will provide an Approved Intermediary Service to the public when the Insolvency Service of Ireland are ready to accept applications for authorisation. While MABS will not charge a fee for the work that they do, the Insolvency Service of Ireland may charge an application fee which may be collected on their behalf by a MABS Approved Intermediary.

Acronym:Annual Percentage Rate

This stands for Annual Percentage Rate. This tells you the cost of a loan, taking into account the interest you pay, any other charges, and when the payments fall due. You can use the APR to compare the cost of one loan with another, for example, a loan with an APR of 15% is more expensive that one with an APR of 11%.

Definition: Arrangement

In the case of debt, an agreement is usually voluntarily made with creditors to repay a debt in fixed amounts over a certain time period. You should get all arrangements in writing and keep copies for your records. Let your creditors know if you cannot keep up the repayments as agreed, as you may be able to renegotiate the terms of your agreement. Contact the MABS helpline on 0761 07 2000 for further information on rearranging an agreement.

Definition: Arrears

A debt or payment that is not paid by the due date; or another way of saying “past due”.


Before tackling your debt problems, you should assess your level of debt and your ability to repay it from your income. For help assessing your debt, see MABS – Assess your Situation. 

Definition: Asset

Anything that is owned, valuable and can be resold. For example, a house, land, a car and an insurance policy. An asset can be given as security (or “collateral”) to get a loan and the lender can hold the deeds or keep ownership until the loan is repaid. If the loan is not repaid, or can’t be, the lender can try to take over the asset and sell it. Even if an asset was not given as security for a loan, a lender can apply to the authorities to have their name put on the asset if the borrower does not or cannot repay their debt. If you have paid off a loan where security was given, it is worth checking that the deeds or ownership are in your name only. You may need the help of a solicitor to do this, perhaps for a fixed fee.


Assets are anything that you own, e.g. savings, shares, cars, computers, sports equipment etc., that have a value.

Definition: Assets

Anything that you own, such as a car, house, jewellery, savings or sports equipment.

Assignment of Debts
Definition: Assignment of Debts

When debt is transferred from the original creditor to a new one, who buys and then pursues it. The original terms and conditions of the agreement with the first creditor still apply. See also Agent.

Acronym:Automated Teller Machine

Dispenses cash and provides information on your current account. To use an ATM, you need a cash card and a personal identification number (PIN number). If you are on a tight budget and hold several cards, it is worth knowing that every year you will be charged a government tax for using a cash card, which is taken directly from your current account by your bank. This tax is charged even if you don’t use the card

Attachment of Earnings
Definition: Attachment of Earnings

An order of the Court to take money directly from a person’s wages and paid to someone they owe money to. In Ireland it is used for maintenance and is not yet available to ordinary creditors.

Definition: Auction

A method of buying or selling property or goods. Bids (or “offers”) are made on items up for sale and the sale is agreed if one of the bids is accepted by the auctioneer in charge. A minimum price (or “reserve price”) set by the seller can be agreed with the auctioneer in advance.

Authority to Act
Definition: Authority to Act

By law, a creditor is not allowed to discuss an account or make decisions on it with a third party without written permission from their customer; so if you wish to act discuss for someone else’s account with their creditors, you will need their written permission of that person to do so.  

Available Credit
Definition: Available Credit

The difference between a person’s credit limit and the amount of money they have already borrowed or spent on their credit card. Under the Consumer Protection Code, regulated firms, such as banks and building societies, must not offer you a pre-approved loan or mortgage that you have not asked for or increase your credit card limit unless you ask them to.