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LEGAL TERMS

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.

LIQUIDATING PARTNER

The member of an insolvent or dissolving partnership responsible for paying the debts and settling the accounts of the partnership.

SUBROGATION

A taking on of the legal rights of someone whose debts or expenses have been paid. For example, subrogation occurs when an insurance company that has paid off i... (more...)
A taking on of the legal rights of someone whose debts or expenses have been paid. For example, subrogation occurs when an insurance company that has paid off its injured claimant takes the legal rights the claimant has against a third party that caused the injury, and sues that third party.

DISPOSABLE INCOME

The difference between a debtor's current monthly income and allowable expenses. This is the amount that the new bankruptcy law deems available to pay into a Ch... (more...)
The difference between a debtor's current monthly income and allowable expenses. This is the amount that the new bankruptcy law deems available to pay into a Chapter 13 plan.

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 BUREAU

A private, profit-making company that collects and sells information about a person's credit history. Typical clients include banks, mortgage lenders and credit... (more...)
A private, profit-making company that collects and sells information about a person's credit history. Typical clients include banks, mortgage lenders and credit card companies that use the information to screen applicants for loans and credit cards. There are three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union, and they are regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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.

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.

FAIR CREDIT BILLING ACT (FCBA)

A federal law that gives you rights when an error occurs on your credit card statement. You must notify the credit card company of the mistake within 60 days af... (more...)
A federal law that gives you rights when an error occurs on your credit card statement. You must notify the credit card company of the mistake within 60 days after it mailed the bill to you. The company must then correct the mistake, or at least acknowledge receipt of your letter within 30 days, and must correct the error within 90 days or explain why it believes the credit card statement is correct.