This section explains terms you might have seen in other parts of this site or in communication you have received from creditors.
- Calendar Month
- Definition: Calendar Month
The period of time from the same date one month to the same date the next month; so it can be 28, 30 or 31 days long (or 29 in a leap year).
- Cancellation Rights/Cooling-off Period
- Definition: Cancellation Rights/Cooling-off Period
A period of time after a person signs a contract, but before the contract becomes binding. In this period of time, you can change your mind about the contract without any penalty. Details of the time limit are usually explained in the terms and conditions of a contract and can vary depending on the type of agreement.
There are some legal rights you should know about:
• The Consumer Credit Act provides a 10-day cooling-off period for all contracts and agreements, but this right can be given up by signing a waiver.
• The cooling-off period for online sales starts on the date the contract is signed concluded. This means you can return an item or cancel a service within seven fourteen days.
For more information, see thecai.ie.
- Definition: Capital
The original amount you borrowed in a loan (also called “principal”). It can also mean the amount of money a person saves, invests or borrows before it gains interest or is lost. Think of it as the amount of money you started with.
- Capital Gains Tax
- Definition: Capital Gains Tax
A government tax that must be paid on any profits you make up to a certain amount. For more information, see Revenue – Guide to Capital Gains Tax.
- Car Insurance
- Definition: Car Insurance
Insurance that you need to have before you can drive a vehicle. Depending on the type of insurance, a policy will pay you a certain amount if your car is stolen and contribute to repairs if the car is damaged in an accident or fire.
- Cash Advance
- Definition: Cash Advance
A cash withdrawal using a credit card, which is basically a loan from the card company and may have a fee and interest attached to it.
- Cash Back
- Definition: Cash Back
A feature of a Laser or debit card that lets you to get money straight from your account when you use it to buy something in a shop.
- Cash Loan
- Definition: Cash Loan
Borrowed money that can be used as the borrower chooses. In other words, it is not linked to a vehicle or property and is more often used for smaller purchases (such as computers or holidays).
- Cashcard (Also known as ATM card)
- Definition: Cashcard (Also known as ATM card)
A card you can use only at cash machines (with a Personal Identification Number (PIN)) to withdraw cash, check your balance or print out a short account statement.
- Catalogue Company
- Definition: Catalogue Company
- Catalogue Credit
- Definition: Catalogue Credit
A way of buying goods (from a catalogue or online) on credit that will often be delivered to your home. You can often pay this credit in instalments with interest. When goods are sold as being “interest free”, it is important read the contract to find out whether interest is added if payment is not received on time. When you make a purchase from a catalogue, over the phone or online, the seller is required to give you certain information before the purchase goes through. This information must include:
• the name and address of the seller
• a detailed description of the goods
• the total price (including fees, taxes and delivery charges)
• the arrangements for payment and delivery
• details of the cancellation rights/cooling-off period.
If you don’t receive all of these details, the cooling-off period is legally extended from seven days to 90 days. For more information, see www.consumerassociation.ie.
- Caveat Emptor
- Definition: Caveat Emptor
A Latin term (meaning “buyer beware”) used to warn people to make sure they understand what exactly it is they are buying, before they buy it.
- Acronym:Community Education
- Charge Card
- Definition: Charge Card
A type of credit card often given by a store to its customers so that they can buy goods from the store on credit and receive special offers or special interest rates when the card is used in that store. Beware of paying only the minimum amount when the bill comes, as the debt can escalate quickly. See also Credit Card.
- Definition: Charges
Usually refers to the fees and interest you must pay, for example when you borrow money or buy something on credit. Under the Consumer Protection Code, banks and businesses have to give you information about all of the costs of their products and services. They are required to:
• tell you what the charges are before providing their service
• give you at least 30 days’ notice if they plan to increase the charges or introduce any new charges (if the change affects you)
• ensure that each statement they send you shows all the charges they applied in the period the statement covers
• tell you at least 10 business days before taking money from your account when charges are left to build up and then charged at regular times (unless they are for €12.70 or less)
• fix any mistakes they make in any charge or price quickly, efficiently and fairly
• tell you how you can avoid charges such as penalty fees or penalty interest on your account (for example, charges for taking out more money than you have in your account or going over your overdraft limit, if you have one)
- Definition: Cheque
A written order addressed to a bank telling the bank to pay an amount of money from one account to the person or organisation the cheque is made out to.
- Cheque Guarantee Card
- Definition: Cheque Guarantee Card
A plastic card from a bank or building society which guarantees that the amount of money on a cheque (up to a certain limit) will be paid, whether or not there is enough money in the account to cover it.
- Civil Bill
- Definition: Civil Bill
- Civil Summons
- Definition: Civil Summons
The first stage of legal action taken in the District Court for the repayment of a debt or unpaid instalments on a loan (or other money owed). The District Court is used where the amount being claimed is less than €6,349.
- Definition: Claim
An application for a welfare payment, for compensation or against an insurance policy.
Welfare Payment Claim
If your income is low you may find you have an entitlement to a payment from the Department of Social and Family Affairs Protection or from the Health Service Executive. For extensive information on all welfare payments, see www.citizensinformation.ie or www.hse.ie.
A claim for payment or damages. For example, loss of income can be because of an accident or injury that keeps you from working and so you may have grounds for a compensation claim if you can prove the injury was not your fault.
If you are injured as the victim of a crime, you may be eligible for compensation under the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted. For more information, see www.citizensinformation.ie.
If you are in financial difficulty it is always worth looking at your credit card contracts to see if you have paid for Payment Protection Insurance, as you may be eligible to claim cover to help with your credit card repayments if your circumstances have changed. See also Insurance.
If you have insurance, whether on a vehicle or Payment Protection Insurance, you may be able to make a request to the insurance company, based on the terms and conditions of that insurance, to make payments to you.
- Definition: Clearing
The time it takes for a bank or building society to transfer money from one account to another, such as when a person lodges a cheque into their account.
- Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears
- Definition: Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears
- Definition: Codes
Written regulations that govern procedure or behaviour in particular circumstances or within a particular profession. Codes can be followed on a voluntary basis, overseen by an association for a specific profession, or imposed by law and enforced by a regulatory body.
Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears This Code sets out how mortgage lenders (referred to in this document as “lenders”) must treat borrowers in or facing mortgage arrears
Came into effect on 1 January 2011 For further information, see Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears – 2010.Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears 2010
Code of Practice on the Transfer of Mortgages
Sets out the practice for lenders transferring mortgage loans between each other. For further information, see Code of Practice on the Transfer of Mortgages.
Consumer Protection Code (CPC)
Under this code, banks and businesses must:
• deal with you professionally, honestly and fairly
• act in your best interest when providing products and services to you
• give you the information necessary for you to make the right decision
• handle any complaints you have about their dealings with you quickly, efficiently and fairly
The CPC also prohibits them from misleading you (on purpose) about the advantages and disadvantages of any product or service, putting you under too much pressure or pressuring you to buy a product or service. In addition, they cannot prevent you from getting access to basic financial services (such as a bank account).
For a useful guide to this code, or if you think a bank or business has treated you unfairly, see CPC – Financial Regulator's Guide.
The Central Bank introduced its Code of Conduct on the Switching of Current Accounts with Credit Institutions in October 2010. The Code is designed to make switching your current account simpler and faster. Under this code your new bank or building society must have your new account up and running within 10 working days of the switching date
The Irish Banking Federation
Mortgage Lenders Pledge
A voluntary promise to homeowners with difficulties paying their mortgage that Irish Banking Federation mortgage lenders will try to come to an agreement with the homeowner instead of taking legal action.
MABS/Irish Banking Federation Protocol
The country’s top 12 credit institutions are acting together to help personal customers to manage their debt. Developed jointly over two years by the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), the IBF/MABS Operational Protocol: Working Together to Manage Debt came into effect on 28 September 2009.
The Irish Insurance Federation also has a number of voluntary codes of practice. For more information, see www.iif.ie.
- Definition: Collateral
Usually an asset such as a property or investment that is accepted from a borrower by a lender as security for a loan in case the loan is not repaid.
- Definition: Commission
A small fee charged as a percentage of something being sold (such as foreign currency exchange). It can also be a payment that a financial services company gives to a broker or financial advisor in exchange for selling their financial product.
- Commission for Communications Regulation (COMREG)
- Definition: Commission for Communications Regulation (COMREG)
See Regulatory Bodies.
- Commission for Energy Regulation (CER)
- Definition: Commission for Energy Regulation (CER)
The regulator for the electricity and natural gas sectors in Ireland. For more information, see www.cer.ie.
- Commissioner for Oath
- Definition: Commissioner for Oaths
Commissioner These are officials who can verify statements. A Commissioner for Oaths can charge a standard fee per signature for verifying statements. If there is an exhibit, for example, a marriage certificate, attached to the document that needs to be signed, there is a further charge. Peace Commissioners are honorary appointments and there are no fees or expenses for their services.
- Committal Summons/Order
- Definition: Committal Summons/Order
A legal document used in the last stages of debt collection (or enforcement) through the courts. It is extremely important not to ignore a committal summons. If you or someone you know has received a committal summons or are unsure, contact our helpline on 0761 07 2000 or the FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) helpline 1890 350 250.
- Definition: Complaints
Depending on the issue, there are many different ways of making a complaint and procedures that need to be followed. Often the best place to start is with the organisation concerned by making the complaint directly through its own complaints procedure. If the complaint is still not resolved, there may be grounds to take the matter further. Some practices are governed by voluntary codes of practice, so find out if the company is a member of a trade association that could deal with the complaint. See also the Citizens Information Board’s section on Consumer Complaints.
Other protections are the rights of the consumer by law and are enforced by regulatory bodies. For example, the Financial Regulator checks that businesses keep to the Consumer Protection Code and other laws. Under the Consumer Protection Code, businesses must have a written procedure in place for dealing with complaints and they must handle them quickly, efficiently and fairly. The Financial Regulator does not investigate individual complaints (that’s what the Financial Services Ombudsman does), but they may be interested in hearing about any bad business practices.
See Ombudsman for information on the various Ombudsmen and what complaints they deal with.
- Compound Interest
- Definition: Compound Interest
The type of interest you pay on money that you borrow. In short, compound interest means interest on interest on interest. It is calculated by adding together the amount you owe and the amount of interest you have been charged in the previous period. Each time a payment is due, interest is re-calculated on the remaining balance (which includes all the interest charged so far). This continues as long as there is a balance due, meaning the amount you owe can increase quite dramatically over quite a short period of time, even if the minimum payment is being paid on time. Common agreements with this type of interest are credit cards, store cards and overdrafts.
This is also the type of interest usually paid to a savings account. It is calculated by adding together the amount you have in your account (the capital), which includes the interest paid on it up to now.
- Comprehensive Motor Insurance
- Definition: Comprehensive Motor Insurance
Motor insurance that covers a person for all damage to their car, resulting from any accidents, theft or fire.
- Definition: Confidentiality
You are entitled by law to have your privacy and personal information protected. If you feel that someone has broken your confidentiality in relation to your personal information, you may be able to do something under data protection laws. For more information, see www.dataprotection.ie.
However, confidentiality is more than data protection; it also extends to your financial information and details of your bank account (which may not be covered by data protection). If you have a complaint against a person, bank or business for breaking (or “breaching”) confidentiality, you should follow the appropriate complaints procedures.
- Consolidation Loan
- Definition: Consolidation Loan
A new, single loan that combines (consolidates) more than one outstanding debt. For example, a consolidation loan could combine your credit card debt, mortgage or rent arrears, loan repayments and household bills into one monthly payment.
- Definition: A person who buys goods or services.
A person who buys goods or services.
- Consumer Credit Act 1995
- Definition: Consumer Credit Act 1995
A law in Ireland that protects consumers from things like dishonest or unfair advertising, of different types of credit such as hire purchase agreements and money lending agreements.
- Consumer Protection Act 1997
- Definition: Consumer Protection Act 1997
An updated law that made changes to the existing law to give more rights to consumers. It established the National Consumer Agency (NCA) to enforce this law (see Regulatory Bodies). The Act deals with three types of unfair commercial practices; misleading practices (dishonest or unfair, including leaving out important information), aggressive practices and prohibited practices (such as putting someone on a black list). See the NCA website www.nca.ie to read a guide to this act.
- Consumer Protection Code
- Definition: Consumer Protection Code
- Contents Insurance (Building/Contents Insurance)
- Definition: Contents Insurance (Building/Contents Insurance)
Covers the loss or damage of property, mostly the property in your home (for example, furniture, clothing and personal possessions). Contents insurance is different from buildings insurance, which covers the structure of your property, so it may be useful to tenants whose valuables are not covered by the landlord’s insurance.
- Definition: Contract
An agreement between two or more people or groups, which is usually written and is binding on everyone named in the contract.
Contract of Service
A contract usually agreed between an employee and their employer.
Contract for Service
A contract usually agreed between an organisation and another organisation or a self-employed person, such as a consultant or a contractor.
- Conversion Rate
- Definition: Conversion Rate
Also known as the “exchange rate”, the amount of difference in the value of one currency compared to another. For example, if you use euros to buy dollars, the exchange rate might be $1.20 for €1.
- Definition: Conveyance
The legal process of transferring the ownership of property from seller to buyer.
- Cooling-off Period
- Definition: Cooling-off Period
See Cancellation Rights.
- Cost of Credit
- Definition: Cost of Credit
The difference between the amount you borrow and the total amount you will repay (including interest) by the time you have paid it off in full. This shows you the real cost of borrowing.
- Definition: Counterclaim
A claim in response to, or as a defence against, another claim. For example, if you bought faulty goods or poor services and decided not to pay or stop paying, when the company takes you to court for the money, you may counterclaim back against the company to get back some or all of the money you may have lost.
- Court Costs
- Definition: Court Costs
There are generally two main categories of costs; party and party costs, and solicitor and own client costs.
Party and Party Costs
All reasonable costs, charges and expenses built up by one party (person, group or side) for the purpose of the court proceedings, which the other party (person, group or side) has to pay. The party claiming the costs must justify why they were incurred and why they should be allowed, but they normally don’t cover the full amount of the other party’s costs.
Solicitor and Own Client Costs
Costs a client must pay their solicitor, which are not covered by party and party costs. For example, you may need to have several meetings with a solicitor, but some of them might not be covered by party and party costs.
Bill of Costs
Charges by solicitors to their clients. A solicitor should give their client a detailed list of the legal services they provided, the total amount they may have already received, and details of all their charges and the nature of the work carried out for their client.
You are allowed to challenge the amount of costs charged in relation to any action. This is called “taxing”. For more information on taxing of costs, see Court Costs
- Court Order
- Definition: Court Order
The ruling of a judge. Also called a “decree” or “judgment”.
- Court Procedure
- Definition: Court Procedure
See our leaflet on the Legal System.
- Courts Interest
- Definition: Courts Interest
When a creditor applies for a court order for payment of a debt, they may also get an order for interest on the remaining amount (which may be set under the terms of the original contract or at the court rate which is currently 8% on debts over €190.46).
- Definition: Credit
Money that a bank, building society or a credit card company has lent a person to buy goods or services.
This also describes a person’s account when money has been paid into it. If your account is “in credit”, it means that you have money available. “On credit” means that someone (for example, a bank, credit institution, garage or shop) has given you a cash loan, goods or services with an agreement that you will pay back the money, usually with interest, over an agreed time.
- Credit Agreement
- Definition: Credit Agreement
A document that records the terms and conditions of the agreement between a creditor and a debtor, or between a lender and a borrower.
- Credit Card
- Definition: Credit Card
A plastic card issued by a bank or building society that allows you to buy things and pay for them later. You can also use a credit card to withdraw money from an ATM, but this usually costs more in interest. The card comes with a limit on how much you can spend on it in any given period of time. If you go over the limit, your card will probably be refused when you try to use it. Even if it isn’t refused, you may still have to pay extra charges.
Every month the bank or building society will send you a statement of your account. You must pay at least the minimum amount shown on the bill each month (interest is usually charged if you don’t). Also beware of compound interest. By law, credit card agreements must tell you:
• the credit limit (if there is one)
• the interest rate (APR)
• when or how the agreement may be changed
• how you can use the card
• the terms of repayment
• how you can get out of the agreement if you need to
- Credit History
- Definition: Credit History
Tracks your record in repaying loans. Most lenders use a central agency (the Irish Credit Bureau) to check your credit history. The ICB keeps files on individual borrowers and uses the information it gets from lenders to build up each borrower’s credit history.
- Credit Institution
- Definition: Credit Institution
Any entity (other than a credit union or friendly society) whose business it is to receive deposits or other funds from people and to give out credit on its own account. Credit institutions are regulated by the Financial Regulator.
- Credit Intermediaries
- Definition: Credit Intermediaries
A person who arranges the supply of credit or the letting of goods to a customer, in return for a commission, payment or consideration of any kind from the credit provider or the owner, as the case may be. Examples of credit intermediaries are garages and high street retailers (such as furniture and electrical stores) that offer to arrange finance. A credit intermediary must hold a letter of recognition from each organisation they act for. See www.itsyourmoney.ie for a guide to financial advisors.
- Credit Limit
- Definition: Credit Limit
The most a lender will allow a person to borrow at any time. See also Consumer Protection Code.
- Credit Rating
- Definition: Credit Rating
A publicly available rating of a person’s track record in paying back debts (such as loans and credit card bills) which is used by creditors to decide whether or not to give someone credit.
Many utilities companies (gas, electricity, television) refer to a person’s “credit rating”; however this is their own internal rating system and is not available to anyone else.
- Credit Reference Agency
- Definition: Credit Reference Agency
An organisation that holds information on a person and their past record of paying back their debts, which lenders may look at before they agree to give a loan. In Ireland we have one main credit reference agency – the Irish Credit Bureau. To see how credit referencing works, see the Data Protection Commissioners’ website www.dataprotection.ie.
- Credit Report
- Definition: Credit Report
The information stored about you with a credit reference agency. It will include electoral roll information for your address, how you have handled credit in the last six years and a record of credit checks made about you with that agency. You have a right to see your credit report and correct anything that you can prove is wrong.
- Credit Sale Agreement
- Definition: Credit Sale Agreement
A type of agreement where goods are bought on credit. But unlike in a hire purchase agreement, the goods cannot be repossessed.
- Credit Scoring
- Definition: Credit Scoring
A system used by a lender to give a score to a potential borrower, depending on the answers they give to a series of questions. The lower the score, the higher the risk that the person will not repay the loan. Lenders are not required to give information on credit scoring.
- Credit Union
A non-profit, community-based organisation that makes loans to its members and encourages savings. Credit unions are not covered by the Consumer Credit Act 1995, but are regulated by the Financial Regulator. For more information on credit unions, see the Irish League of Credit Union’s website www.creditunion.ie.
- Definition: Creditor
A person or company that lends money.
- Definition: Credits
- Critical Illness Insurance
- Definition: Critical Illness Insurance
Insurance that pays one lump sum to cover a person’s mortgage or makes regular payments to it, if a person cannot work because of an illness.