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LEGAL TERMS

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.

SECURED DEBT

A debt on which a creditor has a lien. The creditor can institute a foreclosure or repossession to take the property identified by the lien, called the collater... (more...)
A debt on which a creditor has a lien. The creditor can institute a foreclosure or repossession to take the property identified by the lien, called the collateral, to satisfy the debt if you default. Compare unsecured debt.

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.

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.

CHAPTER 13 BANKRUPTCY

The reorganization bankruptcy for consumers, in which you partially or fully repay your debts. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep your property and use your inc... (more...)
The reorganization bankruptcy for consumers, in which you partially or fully repay your debts. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you keep your property and use your income to pay all or a portion of the debts over three to five years. The minimum amount you must pay is roughly equal to the value of your nonexempt property. In addition, you must pledge your disposable net income -- after subtracting reasonable expenses -- for the period during which you are making payments. At the end of the three-to five-year period, the balance of what you owe on most debts is erased.

INTEREST

A commission you pay a bank or other creditor for lending you money or extending you credit. An interest rate represents the annual percentage that is added to ... (more...)
A commission you pay a bank or other creditor for lending you money or extending you credit. An interest rate represents the annual percentage that is added to your balance. This means that if your loan or credit line has an interest rate of 8%, the holder adds 8% to the balance each year. More specifically, interest is calculated and added to your loan or credit line through a process called compounding. If interest is compounded daily, the balance will rise by 1/365th of 8% each day. If interest is compounded monthly, the balance will rise 1/12th of 8% at the start of each month.

LOSS DAMAGE WAIVER (LDW)

Rental car insurance that makes the rental car company responsible for damage to or theft of a rental car. This insurance is a major consumer ripoff, as it ofte... (more...)
Rental car insurance that makes the rental car company responsible for damage to or theft of a rental car. This insurance is a major consumer ripoff, as it often duplicates coverage provided by the renter's regular car insurance and/or the credit card she uses to rent the car. Nevertheless, hard-sell practices by rental car agents often dupe people into buying LDWs they don't really need. LDW is also called 'collision damage waiver.'

IRS EXPENSES

A table of national and regional expense estimates published by the IRS. Debtors whose current monthly income is more than their state's median family income mu... (more...)
A table of national and regional expense estimates published by the IRS. Debtors whose current monthly income is more than their state's median family income must use the IRS expenses to calculate their average net income in a Chapter 7 case, or their disposable income in a Chapter 13 case.

DISCHARGE (OF DEBTS)

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