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LEGAL TERMS

CREDIT BUREAU

A private, profit-making company that collects and sells information about a person's credit history. Typical clients include banks, mortgage lenders and credit... (more...)
A private, profit-making company that collects and sells information about a person's credit history. Typical clients include banks, mortgage lenders and credit card companies that use the information to screen applicants for loans and credit cards. There are three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, and they are regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

DOING BUSINESS AS (DBA)

A situation in which a business owner operates a company under a name different from his or her real name. The owner must file a 'fictitious name statement' or ... (more...)
A situation in which a business owner operates a company under a name different from his or her real name. The owner must file a 'fictitious name statement' or similar document with the appropriate agency -- for example, the county clerk. This enables consumers to discover the names of the business owners, which is important if a consumer needs to sue the business.

DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PLAN

A type of pension plan that does not guarantee any particular pension amount upon retirement. Instead, the employer pays into the pension fund a certain amount ... (more...)
A type of pension plan that does not guarantee any particular pension amount upon retirement. Instead, the employer pays into the pension fund a certain amount every month, or every year, for each employee. The employer usually pays a fixed percentage of an employee's wages or salary, although sometimes the amount is a fraction of the company's profits, with the size of each employee's pension share depending on the amount of wage or salary. Upon retirement, each employee's pension is determined by how much was contributed to the fund on behalf of that employee over the years, plus whatever earnings that money has accumulated as part of the investments of the entire pension fund.

REAFFIRMATION

An agreement that a debtor and a creditor enter into after a debtor has filed for bankruptcy, in which the debtor agrees to repay all or part of an existing deb... (more...)
An agreement that a debtor and a creditor enter into after a debtor has filed for bankruptcy, in which the debtor agrees to repay all or part of an existing debt after the bankruptcy case is over. For instance, a debtor might make a reaffirmation agreement with the holder of a car note that the debtor can keep the car and must continue to pay the debt after bankruptcy.

CREDIT INSURANCE

Insurance a lender requires a borrower to purchase to cover the loan. If the borrower dies or becomes disabled before paying off the loan, the policy will pay o... (more...)
Insurance a lender requires a borrower to purchase to cover the loan. If the borrower dies or becomes disabled before paying off the loan, the policy will pay off the remaining balance. Federal and state consumer protection laws require the lender to disclose to existing and potential borrowers the terms and costs of obtaining credit insurance because it can affect the terms of the loan.

ACCORD AND SATISFACTION

An agreement to settle a contract dispute by accepting less than what's due. This procedure is often used by creditors who want to cut their losses by collectin... (more...)
An agreement to settle a contract dispute by accepting less than what's due. This procedure is often used by creditors who want to cut their losses by collecting as much money as they can from debtors who cannot pay the full amount.

GARNISHMENT

A court-ordered process that takes property from a person to satisfy a debt. For example, a person who owes money to a creditor may have her wages garnished if ... (more...)
A court-ordered process that takes property from a person to satisfy a debt. For example, a person who owes money to a creditor may have her wages garnished if she loses a lawsuit filed by the creditor. Up to 25% of a person's wages can be deducted.

FAIR CREDIT BILLING ACT (FCBA)

A federal law that gives you rights when an error occurs on your credit card statement. You must notify the credit card company of the mistake within 60 days af... (more...)
A federal law that gives you rights when an error occurs on your credit card statement. You must notify the credit card company of the mistake within 60 days after it mailed the bill to you. The company must then correct the mistake, or at least acknowledge receipt of your letter within 30 days, and must correct the error within 90 days or explain why it believes the credit card statement is correct.

SETOFF

A claim made by someone who allegedly owes money, that the amount should be reduced because the other person owes him money. This is often raised in a countercl... (more...)
A claim made by someone who allegedly owes money, that the amount should be reduced because the other person owes him money. This is often raised in a counterclaim filed by a defendant in a lawsuit. Banks may try to exercise a setoff by taking money out of a deposit account to satisfy past due payments on a loan or credit card bill. Such an act is illegal under most circumstances.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Capital Credit & Collection Serv., Inc. v. Armani

... SERCOMBE, J. Plaintiff Capital Credit & Collection Services, Inc., a debt collector, brought this action to collect $3,990.57 in principal, interest, and attorney fees on a guaranty of a student loan that defendant signed for a friend, Armani. ...

CAPITAL CREDIT & COLLECTION SERVICE, INC. v. ARMANI

... SERCOMBE, J. Affirmed. SERCOMBE, J. Plaintiff Capital Credit & Collection Services, Inc., a debt collector, brought this action to collect $3,990.57 in principal, interest, and attorney fees on a guaranty of a student loan that defendant signed for a friend, Armani. ...

IN MATTER OF MARRIAGE OF POWELL

... In particular, he asserts that the trial court erred in allocating to him the financial responsibility for the majority of the credit card debt incurred by the parties, in awarding wife the marital residence, in treating husband's half interest in the family cabin as a marital asset, and in ...