Almost every profession or industry uses words and expressions that have special meaning related to what they do. These words may take on a different meaning in a specific context than when they are used by the general public. Or they can even be words that apply only to the work of that industry. Such words are often referred to as Jargon. Acronyms and Abbreviations can be part of the unique language or jargon used by members of a specific profession. The legal and debt collection industries are often famous—or infamous—for using terminology not familiar to their clients. Fortunately, there a many resources where anyone can get help, some of them on our own NL website. Let’s lay the groundwork with the “official” definitions of the terms I’ve just used.
The Oxford Dictionary defines jargon as, “Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand: e.g., legal jargon;” or “Jargon is a kind of shorthand that makes long explanations unnecessary.” Well, maybe….Jargon can also be a particular style of speaking or writing that may be difficult for the “uninitiated” to understand. You may relate to this example from a paragraph within a letter from a U.K. law firm: “Any reference to a specific statute includes any statutory extension or modification amendment or re-enactment of such statute and any regulations or orders made under such statute and any general reference to ‘statute” or “statutes’ include any regulations or orders made under such statute or statutes.”
Acronyms and Abbreviations
An acronym is a word formed from initials or other parts of several words, e.g., NARCA – National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys. An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase that can be used in place of the longer form. It may also consist of initials that can’t be pronounced as a word, e.g., FDCPA.
Resources that Can Help
In your search for meaning, you can start with the NL website. You will find the definitions of 68 common legal and debt-collection-related terms here: http://www.nationallist.com/terminology/. If you’re already on the website, you’ll find the Terminology list under Resources at the top of the Home Page. To find a list of Industry Associations with their common acronyms, for example ACA, CLLA, NASP and NARCA, click here, or look under Resources/Associations & State Bar Lists.
If you can’t remember the meaning of an acronym that stands for a law related to debt collection, for example FDCPA, you can find all the possible spelled-out versions for it by going here, http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/, and entering the acronym.
For terms like “subrogation” and “replevin” that come from a specific branch of the industry, like car insurance, try this website, http://voices.yahoo.com/10-important-car-insurance-definitions-5852002.html?cat=27or this one, http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Replevin.
Another place to search for a legal term that you don’t know the meaning of, try going to http://dictionary.law.com/ , the official directory of the Philadelphia Bar Association, enter the term and you will be given the definition. It’s a free service. A similar source of common legal terms was compiled by the Connecticut Judicial branch as a public service. Definitions can be found by entering terms here: http://www.jud.ct.gov/legalterms.htm.
If you haven’t found the term, acronym or abbreviation you’re looking for yet, try one of the following:
- http://www.collectone.com/debt-collection-industry-terms – provided by CollectOne Software
- http://www.experian.com/credit-education/glossary.html – Glossary of Credit Terms, provided by Experian
- http://www.asapcollect.com/Resources–Links–FAQ/Collection-Terms-and-ASAP-Lingo/index.html – an alphabetical list of Collection Terms and A.S.A.P. Lingo
- http://voices.yahoo.com/glossary-common-terms-used-debt-management-2100588.html – Glossary of Common Terms Used for Debt Management
- Abbreviations Used by Consumers when Talking About Credit Related Issues
If you would like to suggest a term, acronym or abbreviation that should be added to our Terminology Page, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope this helps!
By Marti Lythgoe, NL Editor