Glossary: D

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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Data Protection
Definition: Data Protection

An area of law concerning your right to the privacy of your personal information. Those who keep information (or “data”) about you have to follow the rules set out under the data protection laws. The main Irish statutes for dealing with data protection are the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 (as amended and supplemented by statutory instruments). You have the right (for a fee of €6.35) to access information an organisation may have stored about yourself and have any errors corrected. The office of the Data Protection Commissioner has responsibility for protecting privacy rights. For more information, see

Definition: Debenture

A document written by a company for security (usually to a bank or building society) that says that some or all of the company’s assets are to be used as security for a debt. A debenture must be registered with the Companies Registration Office.

Definition: Debit

Money that is taken out of an account (or “debited”) from that account.

Debit Card
Definition: Debit Card

A plastic card that can be used to buy things instead of using cash. It allows a person pay for goods and services and/or get cash back when used in a shop. Unlike a credit card, the amount spent is then taken (or “debited”) directly from your bank account.

Debt Collection Agencies
Definition: Debt Collection Agencies

Companies that seek to get payment for overdue money owed to a creditor. Debt collection agencies can either buy debts from a creditor to pursue for themselves or can work for a creditor to collect their debts for a fee. You should be told which is the case.

Currently there is no specific law on regulating debt collection agencies, but in general reputable creditors use reputable collection agencies. The office of the Data Protection Commissioner considers it good practice to highlight the possible use of a debt collection agency in a terms and conditions document. In some cases, when debts are passed to debt collectors, the staff have a great deal of experience in dealing with people in financial difficulty and can be open to negotiating an affordable repayment plan. 

Debt Counselling Services
Definition: Debt Counselling Services

Companies that advise people on how to deal with debt and in some cases will negotiate with creditors for you, for a fee. You should be careful of these, though, as for-profit debt counselling companies are not regulated.

Debt Relief Notice
Definition: Debt Relief Notice

Granted where there are qualifying debts of €35,000 or less. Where the debtor has low income and assets and is insolvent. This can only be applied for through an Approved Intermediary.

Debt Repayment Plan
Definition: Debt Repayment Plan

In MABS, we use the term “debt repayment plan” to mean a voluntary arrangement that a debtor reaches with one or more of their creditors to repay debt at an agreed amount, which depends on their ability to pay.

Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA)
Definition: Debt Settlement Arrangement

Granted in respect of unsecured debts only, there is no limit on the amount of debt which is owed. The debtor must be insolvent. This arrangement can only be applied for through a Personal Insolvency Practitioner.

Debt to Income Ratio
Definition: Debt to Income Ratio

A ratio that shows your level of debt by comparing what you earn with what you owe. It is calculated by dividing your total monthly debt payments by your total monthly income and multiplying the result by 100.

Eg. If your monthly payments are €1,500 per month and your income is €3,000 per month, your debt to income ratio will be  1,500/3,000 x 100 = 50%

Definition: Debtor

A person who owes money.

Declining Term Policy
Definition: Declining Term Policy

A policy that protects a person’s mortgage payments by ensuring there is enough money to pay off the mortgage in the event of your death and ends as soon as they have paid off their mortgage.

Definition: Decree

An order of the court, also called a “judgment” or a “court order”.

Definition: Deeds

Documents that prove a person owns a particular property, usually used as security for mortgages.

Definition: Default

A failure to pay a debt on time according to the contract. For consumer agreements (under the Consumer Credit Act 1995 (Section 54)), a creditor is required to send you a “default notice” to give you the chance to make the overdue payment, before they take any legal action.

Definition: Defence

A legal term used to describe a formal disagreement put in writing, in court by the debtor when they disagree with the creditor over the debt being claimed. There are court rules about how a defence should be made. Simply being unable to pay is not considered a defence.

Definition: Defence

A legal term used to describe the person being taken to court. In cases of debt, this means the debtor.

Defined Contribution Pension Scheme
Item for:Defined Contribution Pension Scheme

A type of pension plan where a person makes fixed payments each month while they are working, which is often invested by the person or organisation that manages the plan. The scheme then pays out an amount related to the total amount invested and how well the investment has performed, when they retire.

Definition: Dependant

A person who depends on another person for financial support, such as a child or an elderly relative. In preparing a budget or a standard financial statement as part of dealing with your debts, it is important to include details of all dependants who rely on your income.

Definition: Deposit

The initial amount of money that a person pays to get something (for example, a house or a car bought on hire purchase). It can also mean paying money into an account, for instance a bank or building society account.

Deposit Account
Definition: Deposit Account

A savings account which pays interest. It doesn’t provide an ATM card or a cheque book.

Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT)
Definition: Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT)

A tax paid by a bank or building society on the interest a person gets from their savings. The bank deducts the tax from the interest earned on savings on the customer’s behalf and pays it to the Revenue Commissioners. Some people are exempt from paying this tax and may be entitled to claim this tax back. For more information, see the Revenue Commissioners’ information on DIRT.

Deposit Rate
Definition: Deposit Rate

The rate of interest that customers earn on their savings.

Definition: Depreciation

The decrease in value of something due to wear and tear becoming obsolete (out of date).

Direct Debit
Definition: Direct Debit

An instruction to your bank to take money from your bank account automatically to pay a regular but variable bill. For instance, an electricity bill that is different each month. Direct debits can sometimes cause problems if you cannot afford a particular bill, which can result in failed payments, additional charges and overdrafts. To cancel a direct debt, you must write to both your bank and your creditor.

Definition: Discount

Money that is taken off the full price of something.

Discounted Rate Mortgage
Definition: Discounted Rate Mortgage

A type of mortgage usually offered to new customers in which the interest rate is reduced for a set period of time.

Disposable Income
Definition: Disposable Income

Income left over after you pay your taxes, debts and after you pay for basic necessities (such as groceries and utility bills). This is generally used to make a payment plan with creditors when your debts are due.

Definition: Dividend

Money that a company pays to its shareholders (people who own part of the organisation) from its profits. This term is also used by credit unions and refers to the amount paid to members at the end of the financial year

Dormant Account
Definition: Dormant Account

An account that is no longer used or insurance policies that have not been claimed by their owners for at least 15 years. There are laws to ensure that any money in a dormant account is given back to its owner (or the owner’s next of kin) and for the distribution of the money when the owner cannot be found.

Definition: Drawee

In the case of a cheque, this is the bank that will pay the amount written on the cheque to the bank that will receive it.

Definition: Drawer

The person or organisation that writes a cheque. The term “refer to drawer” means a cheque has not cleared.

Definition: Duress

A threat or pressure put on someone to do something. See also Harassment.

Definition: Duty

A government tax charged on certain things such as debit cards, credit cards and cheque books. For more information on relevant taxes and duties, see the Revenue Commissioners’ website