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LEGAL TERMS

GRACE PERIOD

A period of time during which you are not required to make payments on a debt. For example, most credit cards give you a grace period of 20-30 days before you h... (more...)
A period of time during which you are not required to make payments on a debt. For example, most credit cards give you a grace period of 20-30 days before you have to pay interest on the amount of your purchases. Cash advances, however, usually have no grace period; interest begins to accumulate from the date of the withdrawal, even if you pay your bills on time. Also, some student loans give you a grace period after graduating or dropping out of school. During this time, you are not required to make payments on your loan.

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.

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.

FAIR DEBT COLLECTIONS & PRACTICES ACT (FDCPA)

A federal law that outlaws unfair debt collection practices, including lying, harassing, misleading and otherwise abusing debtors, by debt collectors working fo... (more...)
A federal law that outlaws unfair debt collection practices, including lying, harassing, misleading and otherwise abusing debtors, by debt collectors working for collection agencies. The law does not apply to creditors collecting their own debts. This law has greatly improved conditions for debtors, although more than a few debt collectors ignore the law. If a collection agency violates the law, debtors can contact the Federal Trade Commission for help.

CURRENT MONTHLY INCOME

As defined by the new bankruptcy law, a bankruptcy filer's total gross income (whether taxable or not), averaged over the six-month period immediately preceding... (more...)
As defined by the new bankruptcy law, a bankruptcy filer's total gross income (whether taxable or not), averaged over the six-month period immediately preceding the bankruptcy filing. The debtor's current monthly income is used to determine whether the debtor can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, among other things.

TRADE NAME

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

GENERAL PARTNER

A person who joins with at least one other to own and operate a business for profit -- and who (unlike a corporation's owners), is personally liable for all the... (more...)
A person who joins with at least one other to own and operate a business for profit -- and who (unlike a corporation's owners), is personally liable for all the business's debts and obligations. A general partner's actions can legally bind the entire business. See also partnership, limited partnership.

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.

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.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Eaves v. Unifund CCR Partners

... Tommy L. Eaves appeals the jury's verdict against him in Unifund CCR Partners ("Unifund Partners") suit to collect unpaid credit-card debt. We affirm. BACKGROUND. Citibank issued an AT & T credit card to Eaves, and Eaves made purchases with the card. ...

Dulong v. Citibank (South Dakota), NA

... 892 OPINION. Opinion by Justice RICHTER. This case involves a traditional summary judgment in a credit card debt collection matter. Citibank (South Dakota), NA ("Citibank") sued Donna Dulong to recover the balance owed on a credit card (the "Credit Card"). ...

Martinez v. Midland Credit Management, Inc.

... denied), argued that Midland was not entitled to proceed on a sworn account theory to recover a credit card debt. At the hearing on Martinez's Motion for New Trial, Midland argued that its claim was one for breach of contract. ...