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LEGAL TERMS

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.

AUTOMATIC STAY

An injunction automatically issued by the bankruptcy court when a debtor files for bankruptcy. The automatic stay prohibits most creditor collection activities,... (more...)
An injunction automatically issued by the bankruptcy court when a debtor files for bankruptcy. The automatic stay prohibits most creditor collection activities, such as filing or continuing lawsuits, making written requests for payment, or notifying credit reporting bureaus of an unpaid debt.

TOXIC TORT

A personal injury caused by exposure to a toxic substance, such as asbestos or hazardous waste. Victims can sue for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and su... (more...)
A personal injury caused by exposure to a toxic substance, such as asbestos or hazardous waste. Victims can sue for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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.

SETOFF

A claim made by someone who allegedly owes money, that the amount should be reduced because the other person owes him money. This is often raised in a countercl... (more...)
A claim made by someone who allegedly owes money, that the amount should be reduced because the other person owes him money. This is often raised in a counterclaim filed by a defendant in a lawsuit. Banks may try to exercise a setoff by taking money out of a deposit account to satisfy past due payments on a loan or credit card bill. Such an act is illegal under most circumstances.

PRESUMED ABUSE

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, when the debtor's current monthly income exceeds the family median income for his or her state and he or she cannot pass the means te... (more...)
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, when the debtor's current monthly income exceeds the family median income for his or her state and he or she cannot pass the means test, the court will presume that the debtor has sufficient income to fund a Chapter 13 plan. In this situation, the debtor will not be allowed to proceed with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy unless the debtor can prove that he or she is not abusing the Chapter 7 bankruptcy remedy.

CREDIT FILE

See credit report.

TRADE NAME

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

S CORPORATION

A term that describes a profit-making corporation organized under state law whose shareholders have applied for and received subchapter S corporation status fro... (more...)
A term that describes a profit-making corporation organized under state law whose shareholders have applied for and received subchapter S corporation status from the Internal Revenue Service. Electing to do business as an S corporation lets shareholders enjoy limited liability status, as would be true of any corporation, but be taxed like a partnership or sole proprietor. That is, instead of being taxed as a separate entity (as would be the case with a regular or C corporation) an S corporation is a pass-through tax entity: income taxes are reported and paid by the shareholders, not the S corporation. To qualify as an S corporation a number of IRS rules must be met, such as a limit of 75 shareholders and citizenship requirements.

SAMPLE LEGAL CASES

Jaffe v. Pacelli

... ALDRICH, J. I. INTRODUCTION. In this case, the superior court entered a judgment against a debtor, Zenaida C. Pacelli (Pacelli), that included an award of attorney fees. Years later, Pacelli sought to discharge the debt in bankruptcy court. ... 2. The bankruptcy proceedings. ...

Imperial Merchant Services, Inc. v. Hunt

... section 3287, for a total of $179.41. 385 Hunt filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California (the bankruptcy action). Shortly thereafter, Hunt filed a putative ...

Aceves v. US BANK NA

... deed of trust on her residence. About two years into the loan, she could not afford the monthly payments and filed for bankruptcy under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code (11 USC §§ 701-784). She intended to convert the chapter ...