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LEGAL TERMS

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.

LIEN

The right of a secured creditor to grab a specific item of property if you don't pay a debt. Liens you agree to are called security interests, and include mortg... (more...)
The right of a secured creditor to grab a specific item of property if you don't pay a debt. Liens you agree to are called security interests, and include mortgages, home equity loans, car loans and personal loans for which you pledge property to guarantee repayment. Liens created without your consent are called nonconsensual liens, and include judgment liens (liens filed by a creditor who has sued you and obtained a judgment), tax liens and mechanics liens (liens filed by a contractor who worked on your house but wasn't paid).

CREDIT REPORT

An account of your credit history, prepared by a credit bureau. A credit report will contain both credit history, such as what you owe to whom and whether you m... (more...)
An account of your credit history, prepared by a credit bureau. A credit report will contain both credit history, such as what you owe to whom and whether you make the payments on time, as well as personal history, such as your former addresses, employment record and lawsuits in which you have been involved. An estimated 50% of all credit reports contain errors, such as accounts that don't belong to you, an incorrect account status or information reported that is older than seven years (ten years in the case of a bankruptcy).

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.

TRADE NAME

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

ACCORD AND SATISFACTION

An agreement to settle a contract dispute by accepting less than what's due. This procedure is often used by creditors who want to cut their losses by collectin... (more...)
An agreement to settle a contract dispute by accepting less than what's due. This procedure is often used by creditors who want to cut their losses by collecting as much money as they can from debtors who cannot pay the full amount.

CREDITOR

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

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.

UNDUE HARDSHIP

The circumstances in which a debtor may discharge a student loan in bankruptcy. For example, a debtor who has no income and little chance of earning enough in t... (more...)
The circumstances in which a debtor may discharge a student loan in bankruptcy. For example, a debtor who has no income and little chance of earning enough in the future to pay off the loan may be able to show that repayment would be an undue hardship.