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LEGAL TERMS

CREDIT FILE

See credit report.

DISCHARGE (OF DEBTS)

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

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.

GARNISHMENT

A court-ordered process that takes property from a person to satisfy a debt. For example, a person who owes money to a creditor may have her wages garnished if ... (more...)
A court-ordered process that takes property from a person to satisfy a debt. For example, a person who owes money to a creditor may have her wages garnished if she loses a lawsuit filed by the creditor. Up to 25% of a person's wages can be deducted.

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.

FRATERNAL BENEFIT SOCIETY BENEFITS

These are benefits, often group life insurance, paid for by fraternal societies to their members. Elks, Masons or Knights of Columbus are common fraternal socie... (more...)
These are benefits, often group life insurance, paid for by fraternal societies to their members. Elks, Masons or Knights of Columbus are common fraternal societies that provide benefits. Also called benefit society, benevolent society or mutual aid association benefits. Under bankruptcy laws, these benefits are virtually always considered exempt property.

BULK SALES LAW

A law that regulates the transfer of business assets so that business owners cannot dispose of assets in order to avoid creditors. If a business owner wants to ... (more...)
A law that regulates the transfer of business assets so that business owners cannot dispose of assets in order to avoid creditors. If a business owner wants to conduct a bulk sale of business assets -- that is, get rid of an unusually large amount of inventory, merchandise or equipment -- the business owner must typically publish a notice of the sale and give written notice to creditors. Then, the owner must set up an account to hold the funds from the sale for a brief period of time during which creditors may make claims against the money. The prohibition against bulk sales is spelled out in the Uniform Commercial Code -- and laws modeled on the UCC have been generally adopted throughout the country.

CCCS

See Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

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.