Chapter 27 Credit and the Law

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1 Chapter 27 Credit and the Law Section 27.2 Solving Credit Problems Read to Learn Identify sources of credit fraud and precautions that can prevent it. Discuss ways to repair credit problems. The Main Idea The main credit problems that consumers face are credit card and identity theft, and overuse of credit. There are specific steps to take to resolve each issue. Key Concept Preventing Credit Fraud identity theft when someone steals another person s financial information with the intention of committing fraud under that person s identity credit counselor consolidation loan a person who helps people work out a plan for getting out of debt a loan that combines a consumer s debts into one loan with lower payments 1

2 Preventing Credit Fraud There are ways to deal with credit fraud. bankruptcy a legal process in which a borrower is relieved of debts after showing an inability to pay Credit Card Theft Types of Credit Fraud Misuse of Credit Information Identity Theft Dealing with Credit Card and Identity Theft Dealing with Credit Card and Identity Theft The first step a consumer should take when he or she gets a credit or ATM card is to write down the card issuer s phone number and other information. This information should be kept separate from the card. A stolen credit card can lead to identity theft. identity theft when someone steals another person s financial information with the intention of committing fraud under that person s identity If You Discover Your Identity Has Been Stolen Contact the Credit Bureaus The credit bureau will flag the file with a fraud alert that will prevent new accounts being opened. Contact the Creditors Creditors should be informed immediately by phone and in writing. File a Police Report A police report is important because creditors may need proof of the crime. Shred personal papers. Protecting Your Identity Be careful when giving out your personal information. Watch what salespeople do with your credit or ATM card. Make sure your card is returned to you after purchases. Carry your checkbook, and Social Security, ATM, and credit cards only when you expect to use them. For online shopping, read privacy policies and use a secure browser. Review your monthly statements carefully. 2

3 Repairing Credit Problems Many consumers find that they have used their credit cards too often and cannot afford the monthly payments. Contact Creditors Combine Debts Talk to a Credit Counselor Options for Repairing Credit File Bankruptcy Contacting Creditors Talking to a Credit Counselor By contacting creditors, consumers can often work out a new payment plan to lower payments. Consumers who are unable to work out their credit problems should talk to a credit counselor. credit counselor a person who helps people work out a plan for getting out of debt Talking to a Credit Counselor Many credit counseling services charge a fee to clean up a poor credit report. Accurate reports of missed payments or bankruptcy cannot be legally removed from a person s credit report. Combining Debts If the interest rate on a consolidation loan is better overall, then a consolidation loan is a good idea. consolidation loan a loan that combines a consumer s debts into one loan with lower payments 3

4 Filing Bankruptcy Filing bankruptcy gives a debtor a bad credit record that can last for 10 years. bankruptcy a legal process in which a borrower is relieved of debts after showing an inability to pay Filing Bankruptcy One kind of bankruptcy involves selling most of the debtor s assets. Filing Bankruptcy With a reorganizational form of bankruptcy, the debtor, the creditor, and a court-appointed trustee develop a plan to repay the debt on an installment basis. Bankruptcy Laws In the United States, changes to bankruptcy laws have made it more difficult for debtors to declare bankruptcy. Before they can file, all debtors must get credit counseling. The declaration process also requires counseling on budgeting and debt management. 1. What are some credit problems that a debtor might face? credit card and identity theft, and overextending their credit 2. List some precautions to take to avoid identity theft. Shred personal papers that contain identification numbers and carry financial items only when needed. 4

5 3. What effect does declaring bankruptcy have? Creditors can take the debtor s assets. It also leaves a negative mark on a debtor s credit record for years. 5

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