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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.

TRADE DRESS

The distinctive packaging or design of a product that promotes the product and distinguishes it from other products in the marketplace -- for example, the shape... (more...)
The distinctive packaging or design of a product that promotes the product and distinguishes it from other products in the marketplace -- for example, the shape of Frangelico liqueur bottles. Trade dress can be protected under trademark law if a showing can be made that the average consumer would likely be confused as to product origin if another product were allowed to appear in similar dress.

GUARANTEED RESERVATION

A hotel or rental car reservation secured by a credit card number. In exchange for your card number, the hotel or rental agency promises to have a room or vehic... (more...)
A hotel or rental car reservation secured by a credit card number. In exchange for your card number, the hotel or rental agency promises to have a room or vehicle for you no matter when you show up. If you have a guaranteed reservation with a hotel, it must provide you with a room, either at that hotel or at another comparable establishment. If you have a guaranteed reservation with a car agency, it must provide you with a vehicle. The downside of a guaranteed reservation is that if you don't show up and haven't cancelled your reservation, you will be billed for one night in the room or one day's use of the vehicle.

FRAUDULENT TRANSFER

In a bankruptcy case, a transfer of property to another for less than the property's value for the purpose of hiding the property from the bankruptcy trustee --... (more...)
In a bankruptcy case, a transfer of property to another for less than the property's value for the purpose of hiding the property from the bankruptcy trustee -- for instance, when a debtor signs a car over to a relative to keep it out of the bankruptcy estate. Fraudulently transferred property can be recovered and sold by the trustee for the benefit of the creditors.

COSIGNER

A person who signs his or her name to a loan agreement, lease or credit application. If the primary debtor does not pay, the cosigner is fully responsible for t... (more...)
A person who signs his or her name to a loan agreement, lease or credit application. If the primary debtor does not pay, the cosigner is fully responsible for the loan or debt. Many people use cosigners to qualify for a loan or credit card. Landlords may require a cosigner when renting to a student or someone with a poor credit history.

DISCHARGE (OF DEBTS)

A bankruptcy court's erasure of the debts of a person or business that has filed for bankruptcy.

NONPROFIT CORPORATION

A legal structure authorized by state law allowing people to come together to either benefit members of an organization (a club, or mutual benefit society) or f... (more...)
A legal structure authorized by state law allowing people to come together to either benefit members of an organization (a club, or mutual benefit society) or for some public purpose (such as a hospital, environmental organization or literary society). Nonprofit corporations, despite the name, can make a profit, but the business cannot be designed primarily for profit-making purposes, and the profits must be used for the benefit of the organization or purpose the corporation was created to help. When a nonprofit corporation dissolves, any remaining assets must be distributed to another nonprofit, not to board members. As with for-profit corporations, directors of nonprofit corporations are normally shielded from personal liability for the organization's debts. Some nonprofit corporations qualify for a federal tax exemption under _ 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, with the result that contributions to the nonprofit are tax deductible by their donors.

ABUSE

Misuse of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy remedy. This term is typically applied to Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings that should have been filed under Chapter 13, because ... (more...)
Misuse of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy remedy. This term is typically applied to Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings that should have been filed under Chapter 13, because the debtor appears to have enough disposable income to fund a Chapter 13 repayment plan.

MEETING OF CREDITORS

A meeting held with the bankruptcy trustee about a month after you file for bankruptcy. You must attend. The trustee reviews your bankruptcy papers and asks a f... (more...)
A meeting held with the bankruptcy trustee about a month after you file for bankruptcy. You must attend. The trustee reviews your bankruptcy papers and asks a few questions. In a Chapter 7, the meeting of creditors lasts a few minutes and rarely do any creditors show up. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, one or two creditors may attend, especially if they disagree with some provision of your repayment plan.