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LEGAL TERMS

CREDITOR

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

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.

FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT (FCRA)

A federal law that is designed to prevent inaccurate or obsolete information from entering or remaining in a credit report. The law requires credit bureaus to a... (more...)
A federal law that is designed to prevent inaccurate or obsolete information from entering or remaining in a credit report. The law requires credit bureaus to adopt reasonable procedures for gathering, maintaining and disseminating information and bars credit bureaus from reporting negative information that is older than seven years, except a bankruptcy, which may be reported for ten. If you notify a credit bureau of an error in your credit report, the FCRA requires the bureau to investigate your allegations within 30 days, review all information you provide, remove inaccurate and unverified information and adopt procedures to keep the information from reappearing. In addition, the law requires that creditors refrain from reporting incorrect information to credit bureaus.

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.

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.

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.

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.

NONEXEMPT PROPERTY

The property you risk losing to your creditors when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or when a creditor sues you and wins a judgment. Nonexempt property typicall... (more...)
The property you risk losing to your creditors when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or when a creditor sues you and wins a judgment. Nonexempt property typically includes valuable clothing (furs) and electronic equipment, an expensive car that's been paid off and most of the equity in your house. Compare exempt property.

TRADE NAME

The official name of a business, the one it uses on its letterhead and bank account when not dealing with consumers.