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Failure to pay credit agreement instalments on a timely basis has serious consequences for bank customers and their households:
When customers cease to pay instalments, credit institutions must contact them to negotiate payment solutions for the out-of-court settlement of credit agreement arrears.
In the out-of-court arrears settlement procedure (OASP), bank customers benefit from a set of rights and guarantees aimed at facilitating an agreement with credit institutions to settle arrears situations, avoiding recourse to the courts.
This negotiation model applies to most credit agreements concluded with consumers.
Credit institutions are required to include bank customers in arrears into the OASP in the following situations:
Customers are informed by the credit institution that they have been included in the negotiation model envisaged in the OASP within a maximum of five days after this has occurred, through communication on a durable medium.
After the customers in arrears have been included in the OASP, the credit institutions assess the arrears situation and the customer’s creditworthiness. Customers must provide all the requested information and documents within 10 days.
In the 30 days after this procedure has been initiated, credit institutions must present customers with one or more settlement proposals if they verify that customers have the financial capacity to meet the conditions set forth in their proposals.
The solutions proposed by the financial institution may include:
Within 15 days of receipt of the credit institution’s proposal, customers may also propose other solutions that they consider more suitable. Credit institutions are free to accept or refuse such proposals.
As a result of the assessment of the bank customers’ creditworthiness, when the institution concludes that it will not be viable to present proposals, it should inform the customer accordingly.
The credit institution may not charge fees nor increase the interest rate on the credit agreement as a result of renegotiating the terms of the credit agreement under the OASP. Credit institutions may, however, charge bank customers for the costs owed to third parties, such as payments to registry offices and notaries, or tax charges, provided the respective documentary evidence is presented, if applicable.
Customers who reach an agreement with the credit institution are bound by the new terms of payment, and the arrears situation ends for all purposes.
Over the course of the OASP, credit institutions are prohibited from:
The credit institution should monitor the effectiveness of the solutions agreed under the OASP, regularly assessing its suitability to financial capacity, objectives and needs of bank customers and proposing other solutions whenever suitable.
The credit institution may at any time terminate the OASP if:
The OASP terminates automatically:
Credit institutions must inform bank customers, through communication on a durable medium, of the termination of the OASP, describing the legal basis for such termination.
In the event of termination of the OASP, customers in arrears on housing credit agreements and who are also borrowers in credit agreements with other institutions may request the intervention of the Credit Mediator, maintaining the guarantees provided in the OASP for an additional 30 days.
Considering that the credit institution does not provide the necessary support, the bank customer may submit a complaint in the complaints book be it in physical form at one of the institution’s branches or in digital form, or directly at the Banco de Portugal.
Decree-Law No 227/2012 (only in Portuguese)
Materials on credit default