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LEGAL TERMS

CREDITOR

A person or entity (such as a bank) to whom a debt is owed.

DEBIT CARD

A card issued by a bank that combines the functions of an ATM card and checks. A debit card can be used to withdraw cash at a bank like an ATM card, and it can ... (more...)
A card issued by a bank that combines the functions of an ATM card and checks. A debit card can be used to withdraw cash at a bank like an ATM card, and it can also be used at stores to pay for goods and services in place of a check. Unlike a credit card, a debit card automatically withdraws money from your checking account at the time of the transaction. Debit cards are regulated by the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.

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.

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.

CYBERSQUATTING

Buying a domain name that reflects the name of a business or famous person with the intent of selling the name back to the business or celebrity for a profit. T... (more...)
Buying a domain name that reflects the name of a business or famous person with the intent of selling the name back to the business or celebrity for a profit. The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 authorizes a cybersquatting victim to file a federal lawsuit to regain a domain name or sue for financial compensation. Under the act, registering, selling or using a domain name with the intent to profit from someone else's good name is considered cybersquatting. Victims of cybersquatting can also use the provisions of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy adopted by ICANN, an international tribunal administering domain names. This international policy results in arbitration of the dispute, not litigation.

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.

LIEN

The right of a secured creditor to grab a specific item of property if you don't pay a debt. Liens you agree to are called security interests, and include mortg... (more...)
The right of a secured creditor to grab a specific item of property if you don't pay a debt. Liens you agree to are called security interests, and include mortgages, home equity loans, car loans and personal loans for which you pledge property to guarantee repayment. Liens created without your consent are called nonconsensual liens, and include judgment liens (liens filed by a creditor who has sued you and obtained a judgment), tax liens and mechanics liens (liens filed by a contractor who worked on your house but wasn't paid).

SUBROGATION

A taking on of the legal rights of someone whose debts or expenses have been paid. For example, subrogation occurs when an insurance company that has paid off i... (more...)
A taking on of the legal rights of someone whose debts or expenses have been paid. For example, subrogation occurs when an insurance company that has paid off its injured claimant takes the legal rights the claimant has against a third party that caused the injury, and sues that third party.

SECRET WARRANTY PROGRAM

A program under which a car manufacturer will make repairs for free on vehicles with persistent problems, even after the warranty has expired, in order to avoid... (more...)
A program under which a car manufacturer will make repairs for free on vehicles with persistent problems, even after the warranty has expired, in order to avoid a recall and the accompanying bad press. Secret warranties are rarely advertised by the manufacturer, so consumers must pursue the manufacturer to discover and take advantage of them. A few states require manufacturers to notify car buyers when they adopt secret warranty programs.