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LEGAL TERMS

INFRINGEMENT (OF TRADEMARK)

Unauthorized use of a protected trademark or service mark, or use of something very similar to a protected mark. The success of a lawsuit to stop the infringeme... (more...)
Unauthorized use of a protected trademark or service mark, or use of something very similar to a protected mark. The success of a lawsuit to stop the infringement turns on whether the defendant's use causes a likelihood of confusion in the average consumer. If a court determines that the average consumer would be confused, the owner of the original mark can prevent the other's use of the infringing mark and sometimes collect damages.

FCBA

See Fair Credit Billing Act.

TOXIC TORT

A personal injury caused by exposure to a toxic substance, such as asbestos or hazardous waste. Victims can sue for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and su... (more...)
A personal injury caused by exposure to a toxic substance, such as asbestos or hazardous waste. Victims can sue for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

CREDIT REPORT

An account of your credit history, prepared by a credit bureau. A credit report will contain both credit history, such as what you owe to whom and whether you m... (more...)
An account of your credit history, prepared by a credit bureau. A credit report will contain both credit history, such as what you owe to whom and whether you make the payments on time, as well as personal history, such as your former addresses, employment record and lawsuits in which you have been involved. An estimated 50% of all credit reports contain errors, such as accounts that don't belong to you, an incorrect account status or information reported that is older than seven years (ten years in the case of a bankruptcy).

AUTOMATIC STAY

An injunction automatically issued by the bankruptcy court when a debtor files for bankruptcy. The automatic stay prohibits most creditor collection activities,... (more...)
An injunction automatically issued by the bankruptcy court when a debtor files for bankruptcy. The automatic stay prohibits most creditor collection activities, such as filing or continuing lawsuits, making written requests for payment, or notifying credit reporting bureaus of an unpaid debt.

CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY

The most familiar type of bankruptcy, in which many or all of your debts are wiped out completely in exchange for giving up your nonexempt property. Chapter 7 b... (more...)
The most familiar type of bankruptcy, in which many or all of your debts are wiped out completely in exchange for giving up your nonexempt property. Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes from three to six months, costs about $200, and commonly requires only one trip to the courthouse.

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.

UNDUE HARDSHIP

The circumstances in which a debtor may discharge a student loan in bankruptcy. For example, a debtor who has no income and little chance of earning enough in t... (more...)
The circumstances in which a debtor may discharge a student loan in bankruptcy. For example, a debtor who has no income and little chance of earning enough in the future to pay off the loan may be able to show that repayment would be an undue hardship.

FAIR DEBT COLLECTIONS & PRACTICES ACT (FDCPA)

A federal law that outlaws unfair debt collection practices, including lying, harassing, misleading and otherwise abusing debtors, by debt collectors working fo... (more...)
A federal law that outlaws unfair debt collection practices, including lying, harassing, misleading and otherwise abusing debtors, by debt collectors working for collection agencies. The law does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. This law has greatly improved conditions for debtors, although more than a few debt collectors ignore the law. If a collection agency violates the law, debtors can contact the Federal Trade Commission for help.