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LEGAL TERMS

CONSUMER CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICE (CCCS)

A national non-profit agency that, at no cost, helps debtors plan budgets and repay their debts. One major criticism of CCCS is that each office is primarily fu... (more...)
A national non-profit agency that, at no cost, helps debtors plan budgets and repay their debts. One major criticism of CCCS is that each office is primarily funded by voluntary donations from the creditors that receive payments from debtors repaying their debts through that office. Despite this criticism, most CCCS counselors provide clients with thorough and neutral advice.

COLLECTION AGENCY

A company hired by a creditor to collect a debt that it is owed. Creditors typically hire a collection agency only after they have made efforts to collect the d... (more...)
A company hired by a creditor to collect a debt that it is owed. Creditors typically hire a collection agency only after they have made efforts to collect the debt themselves, typically through letters (called 'dunning' letters) and telephone calls. Collection agencies are regulated by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Unfortunately, too many collectors ignore this law.

FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT (FLSA)

A federal law that guarantees a worker's right to be paid fairly. The FLSA defines the 40-hour workweek, sets out the federal minimum wage, states requirements ... (more...)
A federal law that guarantees a worker's right to be paid fairly. The FLSA defines the 40-hour workweek, sets out the federal minimum wage, states requirements for overtime and places restrictions on child labor.

PRIORITY DEBT

A type of debt that is paid first if there are distributions made from the bankruptcy estate in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and must be paid in full in a Chapter 13... (more...)
A type of debt that is paid first if there are distributions made from the bankruptcy estate in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and must be paid in full in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Priority debts include alimony and child support, fees owed to the trustee and the attorney in the bankruptcy case, and wages owed to employees.

PROCEEDS FOR DAMAGED EXEMPT PROPERTY

In a bankruptcy proceeding, money collected through insurance, arbitration, mediation, settlement or a lawsuit to pay for exempt property that's no longer exemp... (more...)
In a bankruptcy proceeding, money collected through insurance, arbitration, mediation, settlement or a lawsuit to pay for exempt property that's no longer exemptible because it has been damaged or destroyed.

401(K) PLAN

A deferred compensation savings program in which employees invest part of their wages, sometimes along with employer contributions, to save on taxes. No income ... (more...)
A deferred compensation savings program in which employees invest part of their wages, sometimes along with employer contributions, to save on taxes. No income taxes on the amount invested and any earnings are due until the employee withdraws money from the fund.

LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

A business structure that allows one or more partners (called limited partners) to enjoy limited personal liability for partnership debts while another partner ... (more...)
A business structure that allows one or more partners (called limited partners) to enjoy limited personal liability for partnership debts while another partner or partners (called general partners) have unlimited personal liability. The key difference between a general and limited partner concerns management decision making--general partners run the business, and limited partners, who are usually passive investors, are not allowed to make day-to-day business decisions. If they do, they risk being treated as general partners with unlimited personal liability.

UNSECURED DEBT

A debt that is not tied to any item of property. A creditor doesn't have the right to grab property to satisfy the debt if you default. The creditor's only reme... (more...)
A debt that is not tied to any item of property. A creditor doesn't have the right to grab property to satisfy the debt if you default. The creditor's only remedy is to sue you and get a judgment. Compare secured debt.

GUARANTOR

A person who makes a legally binding promise to either pay another person's debt or perform another person's duty if that person defaults or fails to perform. T... (more...)
A person who makes a legally binding promise to either pay another person's debt or perform another person's duty if that person defaults or fails to perform. The guarantor gives a 'guaranty,' which is an assurance that the debt or other obligation will be fulfilled.