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LEGAL TERMS

LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

A business structure that allows one or more partners (called limited partners) to enjoy limited personal liability for partnership debts while another partner ... (more...)
A business structure that allows one or more partners (called limited partners) to enjoy limited personal liability for partnership debts while another partner or partners (called general partners) have unlimited personal liability. The key difference between a general and limited partner concerns management decision making--general partners run the business, and limited partners, who are usually passive investors, are not allowed to make day-to-day business decisions. If they do, they risk being treated as general partners with unlimited personal liability.

BANKRUPTCY

A legal proceeding that relieves you of the responsibility of paying your debts or provides you with protection while attempting to repay your debts. There are ... (more...)
A legal proceeding that relieves you of the responsibility of paying your debts or provides you with protection while attempting to repay your debts. There are two types of bankruptcies -- liquidation, in which your debts are wiped out (discharged) and reorganization, in which you provide the court with a plan for how you intend to repay your debts. For both consumers and business, liquidation bankruptcy is called Chapter 7. For consumers, reorganization bankruptcy is called Chapter 13. Reorganization bankruptcy for consumers with an extraordinary amount of debt and for businesses is called Chapter 11. Reorganization bankruptcy for family farmers is called Chapter 12.

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.

DEBT COLLECTOR

A person who works in the in-house collections department of an original creditor or a collection agency to track down debtors and get them to pay what they owe... (more...)
A person who works in the in-house collections department of an original creditor or a collection agency to track down debtors and get them to pay what they owe. Debt collectors can be relentless, often using scare tactics, humiliation and repeated phone calls to extract payments or promises to pay.

SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP

A business owned and managed by one person (or for tax purposes, a husband and wife). For IRS purposes, a sole proprietor and her business are one tax entity, m... (more...)
A business owned and managed by one person (or for tax purposes, a husband and wife). For IRS purposes, a sole proprietor and her business are one tax entity, meaning that business profits are reported and taxed on the owner's personal tax return. Setting up a sole proprietorship is cheap and easy since no legal formation documents need be filed with any governmental agency (although tax registration and other permit and license requirements may still apply). Once you file a fictitious name statement (assuming you don't use your own name) and obtain any required basic tax permits and business licenses, you'll be in business. The main downside of a sole proprietorship is that its owner is personally liable for all business debts.

NUISANCE FEES

Money charged by some credit card companies to increase their profits when you fail to use the card the way the creditor wants. Examples include late payment fe... (more...)
Money charged by some credit card companies to increase their profits when you fail to use the card the way the creditor wants. Examples include late payment fees, inactivity fees and fees for not carrying a balance from month to month. It's best to shop around and get rid of cards that have these fees attached.

GUARANTOR

A person who makes a legally binding promise to either pay another person's debt or perform another person's duty if that person defaults or fails to perform. T... (more...)
A person who makes a legally binding promise to either pay another person's debt or perform another person's duty if that person defaults or fails to perform. The guarantor gives a 'guaranty,' which is an assurance that the debt or other obligation will be fulfilled.

FCRA

See Fair Credit Reporting Act.