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Personal FAQs

Account Switching

I want to switch banks. What should I do?

The Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) introduced its Code of Conduct on the Switching of Current Accounts with Credit Institutions in October 2010. The Code must be complied with by credit institutions (banks and building societies) providing current accounts in Ireland

The Code applies when a consumer wants to switch his/her current account, including any direct debits and standing orders, to another current account in a different credit institution. The two credit institutions involved must be in Ireland.

Access more information on switching your current account.

Access the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website for more information on switching your current account.

I want to switch banks but keep my old account. Can I do that?

Under the CBI Code of Conduct on the Switching of Current Accounts with Credit Institutions, consumers have the option of closing their existing current account or keeping it open after they switch to a current account in another bank or building society.

Access more information on switching your current account.

Access the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website for more information on switching your current account.

I want to switch branches but stay with my current bank. What should I do?

If you want to switch your current account from one branch to another, but you want to stay with your current bank or building society, you should contact your bank or building society directly.

Cheque FAQs

How long does it take to clear a cheque?

It normally takes three to five business days to clear a cheque if it is drawn and payable on a member bank of the Irish Paper Clearing Company Limited (IPCC).

The cheque is lodged on Day One. It is exchanged with the bank on which it is drawn on Day Two. The customer on whose account the cheque is drawn is debited on Day Two or Three. In the event that the cheque is to be returned unpaid for any reason, it will be returned by close of business on Day Four to the payee’s bank.  It will therefore be Day Five before the payee’s bank knows that the cheque is being unpaid.

While the clearing cycle normally takes three days, certainty of payment can actually take up to five or six days. Depending on a particular bank’s policy in relation to risk control, customers are not always permitted to draw down the funds ahead of this timeframe, in order that the bank may be certain that the cheque will not be returned unpaid.

If your bank or building society is not a member of IPCC, you should contact it directly to confirm its clearing cycle.

Can I stop a cheque?

A stop can be placed on a cheque provided it has not already been paid. The bank should be contacted with details of the particular cheque, i.e. the date of issue, cheque number, the amount and the payee.

Do cheques go out of date?

It is the practice of banks in the Republic of Ireland to decline cheques which are presented for payment six months or later than the date the cheque is written.

Can a cheque only be lodged to the named recipient of the cheque?

A cheque which is crossed with “a/c payee only” must be lodged directly into the bank account of the named payee. However, if a cheque is crossed with ‘not negotiable’ or ‘& co’ it may be endorsed by the payee, which means it can be signed over to the benefit of a third party on the reverse of the cheque. It can then be lodged to the bank account of that third party.

Is there a cross-border cheque clearing service?

There is no centrally managed cross-border clearing system in operation for cheques and so it is strongly recommended to use electronic payments for accepting or making cross-border payments. Cheques drawn on foreign countries lodged in a bank in the Republic of Ireland may take a considerable time to clear (check with your bank) and may be returned unpaid in accordance with the legislation and/or clearing rules in place in the country in which the cheque is drawn. For some countries this can be at any time in the future. If the cheque is denominated in another currency, the beneficiary will be exposed to exchange rate fluctuations until the value for the cheque is received.

What is the difference between a cheque and a bank draft?

A bank draft is similar to a cheque, with the primary difference being that it is drawn on a bank rather than a customer account. Because of this, bank drafts have a certainty of fate in that they will not be returned unpaid unless they have been counterfeited, fraudulently altered or stolen. It is for this reason that it can be a preferred method of payment instead of a cheque. However, it should be noted that the value clearing cycle for a bank draft is usually the same as that for a cheque.

Can I design my own cheque?

Yes, your company can design its own company cheque. Access Guidelines for Printing and Using Company Cheques.

Debt Management

I have a problem with debt. What should I do?

Mainstream banks and building societies remain fully committed to working constructively with their customers who are experiencing genuine difficulty with their mortgage repayments. The importance of early engagement is reflected in the four key action steps as follows that a borrower is advised to take:

  • Contact your mortgage lender as soon as possible if you’re having trouble with your mortgage repayments or you are concerned that this might be likely to happen
  • Look at your financial situation to make sure that you’re maximising your income and draw up a budget based on your most important spending commitments
  • Respond to letters or phone calls from your mortgage lender or their legal representative
  • If you are genuinely unable to make your mortgage repayments, ask your mortgage lender to explore with you one or more of the options available under the statutory Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears
  • If you are experiencing difficulties meeting your mortgage or other debt repayments you should contact your mortgage lender and seek free and independent advice.  There are a number of organisations that provide independent advice free-of-charge.

StepChange Debt Charity

StepChange Debt Charity Ireland offers free and independent debt advice tailored to your situation. They can help you to prepare a Standard Financial Statement and recommend the best way forward for you to deal with your debts or mortgage arrears. Their free helpline is available Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm, or visit their website  www.stepchangedebtcharity.ie

StepChange Freephone number: 1800 937 435.

MABS

If you need advice and assistance to deal with mortgage arrears or other debt, you can contact the State’s Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). The MABS service is a free, independent, confidential and nonjudgemental service which is provided by skilled and experienced advisors for people who are in debt or at risk of getting into debt.

The MABS Helpline, 0761 07 2000, is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm. The MABS face-to-face service is available in over 60 locations nationwide – see www.mabs.ie to find your nearest MABS office.

Insolvency Service of Ireland

The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) is an independent, Government organisation set up to help sort out your personal debt problems and to get you back on track. If you owe money and cannot afford to repay it, one of the following options may be open to you:

Debt Relief Notice

You may apply for this through MABs or another approved body. If you have unsecured debts below €35,000, a low income and few assets – this gives you freedom from your debts normally after three years.

Debt Settlement Arrangement

You may apply for this through a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) – your outstanding unsecured debts are written off over a period of time, normally up to 5 years.

Personal Insolvency Arrangement

You may apply for this through a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP). This allows you to settle and/ or restructure your secured and unsecured debts over a period of time, normally up to 6 years. (A mortgage is a typical example of a secured debt.)

Bankruptcy

You may apply to the High Court to be declared bankrupt.

Visit www.backontrack.ie for further information.

Mortgage Arrears Information Helpline

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5pm.

Phone: 0761 07 4050

The Mortgage Arrears Information Helpline offers independent, confidential and high-quality information to borrowers in mortgage arrears or at pre-arrears stage.

Click here for more information on the Mortgage Arrears Information Helpline

The Helpline is provided for callers with mortgages on residential property only. It is targeted at people who have to date not taken any action to address their difficulties, for example, by approaching their lender.  The Helpline can provide information to mortgage holders on:

  • Existing mortgage solutions/alternative repayment arrangements
  • The availability of relevant State supports and the relevant documentation required
  • Dedicated arrears contact points of mortgage lenders
  • A lender’s appeal process, or it can direct caller to where this information can be located
  • The right to appeal a lender’s decision to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

Citizens Information Service

The Citizens Information Board is the statutory body which supports the provision of information, advice and advocacy on a broad range of public and social services. You can get information and advice face-to-face at your local Citizens Information Centre by phone through the Citizens Information Phone Service on 1890 777 121, or by clicking here to access the Citizens Information website.

The Citizens Information Board and MABS recently launched the keepingyourhome.ie website, which aims to provide comprehensive information to anyone who faces losing their home because of mortgage repayment or rent payment difficulties.

FLAC

Free Legal Aid Centres (FLAC) is an independent charity that campaigns on legal issues. It provides an information and referral line (1890 350 250) and organises evening Legal Advice Centres throughout Ireland in conjunction with the Citizens Information Board. Click here to access the FLAC website.

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s personal finance information website provides information and advice on a range of financial issues including managing your money, tackling debt and repossession and making a complaint. Access the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website.

Dormant Accounts

How do I enquire about a dormant account?

Banking and Payments Federation Ireland provides a guide to dormant accounts. Download BPFI’s Guide to Dormant Accounts.

You can get dormant account application forms from banks or from An Post. Please ensure that you send the completed application form to the institution that you believe holds the dormant account, not Banking and Payments Federation Ireland. For further information on dormant accounts see our Dormant Accounts section here.

 

Fraud

I’m concerned about the risk of fraud when banking. What can I do?

It is wise to take precautions when dealing with your money and to be aware of and alert to possible frauds or scams. The National Consumer Agency provides information and advice on how to protect yourself against fraud on its website. Access the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website for more information.

Download the BPFI Fraud Prevention Guide.

Banking and Payments Ireland (BPFI) has developed a Guide to Fraud Prevention which provides simple tips to consumers on avoiding identity theft, staying secure when shopping online, banking on the move, protecting payment card details, identifying counterfeit cash and how to spot fraudsters. Click here to download the BPFI Fraud Prevention Guide.

I’m concerned about identity theft. What can I do?

SafeCard.ie is a website developed by Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) and provides a range of information on payment card fraud and its prevention. The site has a specific section on Identify Fraud which you can access here

makeITsecure is a public-private partnership aimed at raising awareness of IT security amongst Irish internet users that is spearheaded by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in the Republic and the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland. BPFI is a key partner in the campaign. To access the makeITsecure website click here

Access additional information on how to avoid identity theft from the SafeCard website.

Lending

I want to get a loan. What are my options?

Information on the range of loan products currently offered is available from each financial services provider by visiting your local branch, calling the telephone line and on their website. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission provides information on the type of credit available across a range of financial services providers. Access the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website.

How do I apply for a loan?

To apply for a loan you should contact the financial services provider directly.  Before you do so you may want to have your up to date financial information available including details of your current income.  The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission provides information and advice on how to apply for loans, including personal loans and car loans. Access the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website.

Mortgages

I want to buy a new home. How do I get a mortgage?

Information for first-time buyers is available through the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) website here. First-time buyers can also download the BPFI First Time Buyers Guide to the Mortgage Application Process.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission provides information and advice on how to apply for mortgages through its website that can be accessed here.

I was refused a loan. What can I do?

When deciding on a loan application, lenders will take into account the customer’s loan repayment history, as recorded by credit institutions individually or centrally by a credit reference agency to which both institutions and customers refer.

Access information and advice on what to do if you are refused a loan through the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission website.

Most lenders in Ireland send information about borrowers and their repayments to the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB), a credit reference agency owned and financed by its members, which are mainly financial institutions. This information is held in a credit report on each borrower.

How can I check my credit history?

Most lenders in Ireland send information about borrowers and their repayments to the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB). Check your credit history for a small fee by applying to the Irish Credit Bureau.

Where can I get standard mortgage documents?

If you have any queries regarding Deeds of Charge or standard mortgages documents, visit the Property Registration Authority website.

Payment Cards

What is the Government stamp duty on cards?

Payment cards in Ireland are subject to the following taxes which are applied annually.

Debit cards (MasterCard, Visa Debit, Maestro): €2.50 per card

Credit cards: €30 per account (up to 4 cards)

ATM cards: €2.50 per card

Combined ATM and debit cards: €5 per card

As part of Budget 2016 it was announced that the current €2.50 stamp duty charge on ATM cards and the €5 stamp duty charge on combined ATM & Debit Cards will be removed.  Stamp duty on Credit Cards will remain the same.

A new ATM withdrawal fee of 12c for ATM withdrawals will be introduced in January 2016.  ATM withdrawal fees will be capped over the course of a year at €2.50 for ATM cards and €5 for combined ATM & Debit Cards.

Where can I get advice on how to reduce the risk of card fraud?

For more information on card fraud prevention and to find a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions, training materials and lots of useful fraud prevention advice, visit the Safecard.ie website a site developed by Banking and Payments Federation Ireland for retailers and cardholders.

What are contactless payments?

ContactlessContactless is a quick, easy and secure way to pay for items up to €30.  To make a payment using contactless technology, simply hold your payment card up to a secure reader in a shop. Less than a second later, you’ve paid for your goods. Paying contactless means you get in and out of the shop quicker and it eliminates the need for you to insert your card in to the payment terminal, enter your PIN or  sign a receipt when paying.

Many cards in Ireland are now equipped with contactless technology. Cards that have contactless technology will have the contactless symbol on them. More and more shops are beginning to accept contactless cards. You can use your contactless card anywhere you see the contactless acceptance symbol

There is a transaction on my statement that I do not recognise. What should I do?

Contact your bank or card issuer straight away to have it investigated.

What do I do if my payment card has been stolen?

Contact your bank or card issuer immediately. Many banks provide 24-hour, free-phone or low-call numbers especially for this purpose. It is advisable to keep a note of these telephone numbers with you or to save them in your mobile phone.

A shop will not accept my card for transactions under a certain amount. What should I do?

When a shop signs an agreement with a card processor to accept card payments they agree to accept all cards under the brands they sign up to e.g. Visa and MasterCard.  However in practise a small number of retailers apply a limit and will not accept cards or alternatively charge consumers a surcharge for transactions under that limit.  This is a recognised problem in the industry and is currently under review.  It is anticipated that the introduction through budget 2016 of lower interchange rates, ongoing retailer education and the continuing rollout of contactless cards and terminals will help to address this problem.

I have a card which was issued in a non-Euro jurisdiction and the retailer converted my transaction to Euro at point of sale without my permission. Is this allowed?

Dynamic currency conversion (DCC) is a financial service offered by some retailers in which cardholders when making a payment with a card which was issued in a non-euro jurisdiction, can have the cost of a transaction converted to their home currency at the point of sale.  This gives the customer the advantage of knowing at the time of purchase the exact amount their card will be charged.

Retailers who offer this service are obliged to advise the cardholder in advance of completing the transaction of the rate that will be applied and to give the cardholder a choice of whether they wish to proceed in their home or the local currency.  As a cardholder you are always entitled to choose to proceed in the local currency.

SEPA

How do I set up a SEPA Direct Debit?

Most large billing organisations such as utility companies make it very easy for customers to pay by SEPA Direct Debit.

To set up a SEPA Direct Debit you should:

Contact the organisation (Creditor) you wish to pay and request a SEPA Direct Debit mandate (instruction).
Complete the SEPA Direct Debit mandate via a paper form or by phone or internet – to complete the process you will need to provide the following information:

  • Your name and address (address is optional)
  • Your BIC (Business Identifier Code) & IBAN (International Bank Account Number) – note your account must be able to accept SEPA Direct Debits

Mandates set up over the phone or internet must be confirmed in writing by the Creditor to the customer. The Creditor organisation will give you advance notice of collection dates and amounts. Check that these details are correct and contact them straight away if you want to query/amend anything.

Where can I find the BIC and IBAN for my accounts?

Your BIC and IBAN are printed on your bank statement. You can also request them directly from your bank.

The Banking & Payments Federation Ireland website provides a BIC & IBAN mobile app conversion service for consumers called ‘Get My IBAN’. The service will convert a NSC and account number to BIC & IBAN. Using the mobile app you can validate Irish BICS & IBANs.

The ‘Get my IBAN’ service is available here.

What happens once the SEPA Direct Debit is set up?

The Creditor will notify you in advance of the payment details including amount and due date and will collect the funds on the due date. You need to make sure you have sufficient funds available in your account.

What should I do if I have a query on a SEPA Direct Debit payment?

Depending on the nature of your query, you should contact your Creditor, bank or credit union.

Will the SEPA Direct Debit always be debited on the same date?

In many cases, if agreed with the Creditor, the SEPA Direct Debit can be applied on a regular date, otherwise it will be debited as per the advance notice.

What if I need to change my bank account details?

If you wish to change the bank details you should inform the Creditor within a reasonable timeframe, provide them with the new details and they will make the change.

If you are switching your account your bank must organize the switching as per the Central Bank’s Code of Conduct on the switching of current accounts.

How do I cancel a SEPA Direct Debit?

You must contact your bank to cancel a SEPA Direct Debit (some banks provide an online cancellation service). It’s also advisable to inform the Creditor of the cancellation and retain proof of the cancellation e.g. copy of email/letter.

What can I do if an incorrect amount has been taken or a payment has been taken on the wrong date?

When your SEPA Direct Debit is set up, you will receive advance notice confirming when the payments will be taken and how much they will be – it is advisable to check this to confirm the details are correct.

If a SEPA Direct Debit payment has been debited from your account which is not in accordance with the advance notice you can claim a refund of the amount debited within 8 weeks from the date on which the Direct Debit was debited from your account.

To request a refund under of a SEPA Direct Debit, contact your bank who will advise of the procedures.

Note: As SEPA Direct Debits are purely a method of payment, it does not affect any underlying contract that may exist, you should engage with the Creditor to resolve any outstanding issues.

What can I do if the following issues occur?

  1. I cancelled my SEPA Direct Debit and a further payment has been taken?
  2. A SEPA Direct Debit has been taken from my account and I have not signed a mandate?
  3. A SEPA Direct Debit has been taken and the mandate has expired?

For all of the above you can:

  • request an immediate refund of the SEPA Direct Debit within 8 weeks from the date on which the Direct Debit was debited from your account
  • request a refund for an unauthorised Direct Debit after 8 weeks and within 13 months from the date on which the SEPA Direct Debit was debited from your account – a refund for an unauthorised direct debit will require investigation by your bank

Note: As SEPA Direct Debits are purely a method of payment, it does not affect any underlying contract that may exist, you should engage with the Creditor to resolve any outstanding issues.

What are my consumer rights if I use SEPA Direct Debits?

As part of the SEPA Direct Debit Core Scheme Rules and the SEPA Regulation 260-2012 you as a consumer have the following rights

SEPA Consumer (Debtor) Rights

  • Use your account to pay a SEPA Direct Debit in any SEPA country
  • Instruct your bank to refuse a SEPA Direct Debit
  • Prohibit the application of any SEPA Direct Debit to your bank accounts
  • Specify Creditors who may collect SEPA Direct Debits from your bank accounts
  • Specify Creditors who may not collect SEPA Direct Debits from your bank accounts
  • Limit a SEPA Direct Debit collection to a certain amount and/or periodicity
  • Request a refund for any SEPA Direct Debit within eight weeks from the date on which the SEPA Direct Debit was debited from your account. Within the eight week period your bank must refund you on a no-questions asked basis.
  • Request a refund for any unauthorised SEPA Direct Debit after 8 weeks and within 13 months from the date on which the SEPA Direct Debit was debited from your account
How to deal with SEPA Direct Debit queries?

If the query does not relate to the payment of your SEPA Direct Debit, for example you wish to complain about a service, or product you pay for by SEPA Direct Debit, you should refer this to the organisation providing the service or goods. They will be able to provide you with more information about their complaints process.

If you have a query about a SEPA Direct Debit there are a number of options available to you.

1. Contact your bank branch and advise them of the query including:

  • Your contact details
  • BIC & IBAN
  • Date of debit & amount of debit
  • Nature of the query

As part of the SEPA Direct Debit scheme you can:

  • Request a refund for any SEPA Direct Debit within 8 weeks from the date on which the SEPA Direct Debit was debited from your account. Within the 8 week period your bank must refund you on a no-questions asked basis
  • Request a refund for any unauthorised SEPA Direct Debit after 8 weeks and within 13 months from the date on which the SEPA Direct Debit was debited from your account – a refund request for an unauthorised direct debit will require investigation by your bank.
  • Instruct your bank to refuse a SEPA Direct Debit
  • Prohibit the application of any SEPA Direct Debit to your bank accounts
  • Specify creditors who may collect SEPA Direct Debits from your bank accounts
  • Specify creditors who may not collect SEPA Direct Debits from your bank accounts
  • Limit a SEPA Direct Debit collection to a certain amount and/or period

2. Contact your Creditor/company with whom you set up the SEPA Direct Debit and advise them of the query including:

  • Your contact details
  • Account details BIC & IBAN
  • Unique Mandate Reference (UMR) or any reference details
  • Date of debit & amount of debit
  • Nature of the query

Financial Services Ombudsman

The Financial Services Ombudsman is a statutory office which deals independently with unresolved complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with all financial institutions. The service is free to the complainant. You can contact them at:

The Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau,
3rd Floor-Lincoln House,
Lincoln Place,
Dublin 2.
Local: 1890 88 20 90 – Tel: (01) 662 0899 – Fax: (01) 662 0890,
Email: enquiries@financialombudsman.ie, Web: www.financialombudsman.ie

It is important to note that a customer must go through the bank’s internal complaints procedure before referring the complaint to the Ombudsman. This includes escalating the issue to BPFI if necessary. The Ombudsman’s decision is binding on both the customer and the bank, subject only to an appeal by either party to the High Court.