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Credit Slips Unofficial Contest: Win Everything (all the glory that is)

posted by Katie Porter

Shutterstock_309261569Credit Slips has great readers, and I'd love to encourage more of our readership to comment. So I've created this contest, of which I will be the sole judge, except that I'll probably actually let John Pottow decide to keep it quirky.

Here's the challenge. What is an important legal protection for consumers that nobody has ever heard of? I don't mean literally that nobody has heard of but rather a consumer legal right that is poorly understood or underutilized. Even your fellow savants (aka nerds) who read Credit Slips will be blown away to learn of this law. Federal or state laws are fair game, and while the law does not have to be strictly a borrower protection, it should have some connection to household financial security or credit.

I'd love to give you an example but I don't want to take the wind out of everyone's sails by revealing my entry.

The prize is only glory and bragging rights (and maybe a mention in my new Consumer Law textbook) but at least it's not an all-expense paid trip to the next Presidential debate.


Not a consumer protection, but related to household finances and liquidity: From 1979 until 2010, the Earned Income Tax Credit had an advance payment option. See http://www.gao.gov/products/GGD-92-26 (1992 GAO report on underutilization); https://hr.cch.com/news/payroll/081710a.asp (details on 2010 repeal).

Did someone say "quirky"? Maine's bankruptcy exemption of 10 cords of firewood. http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/14/title14sec4422.html

Garn-St. Germain provision prohibiting enforcement of due-on-sale clauses upon divorce. It's hard to think of a life-cycle event that can have as great of an economic impact upon a household, but lenders are prohibited from calling loans on account of a divorce. (G-St.G also has a similar provision for death, but that's not really protecting the consumer, but his/her heirs.)

Oh, there are so many fun ones.

Right now, for example, you cannot be ticketed in California for parking at a broken meter (up to the posted time limit). Oddly, this is true only through December 31, 2016. (Vehicle Code Section 22508.5) So get out here and park while you can.

But to heed Prof. Porter's focus on consumer finance: How about California Civil Code section 1749.5, under which gift certificates cannot expire -- ever? I know we gave you (the nation) a federal law to similar effect as part of the CARD Act and Reg. E (you're welcome), but California's protections are stronger (no 5-year limit, no maintenance fees permitted). This may not be news to regular Slipsniks, but it sure takes merchants by surprise....


Ted Mermin

In Wisconsin Statutes there is non-bankruptcy bankruptcy (usually called Chapter 128). More or less it is a state version of bankruptcy that doesn't provide for a discharge, but does provide an statutory automatic stay, stopping of some interest, and a variety of other debt relief measures, and allows the debtor to consolidate and amortize their debt into a single payment.


Missouri statutory redemption out of foreclosure under Chapter 443 of the Missouri Revised Statutes. Give the Trustee under a deed of trust written notice of intent to redeem before the sale is cried and get court approval of a bond (either surety or cash) in an amount equal to a year's interest and other charges listed in the statute within 20 days after the sale and you get a year from the date of the sale to pay off the lender. The only condition is that the lender has to buy at the foreclosure sale (as opposed to a third party purchaser).

Most of the judges I deal with are surprised to know that the law even exists, much less that it gets used. I have done several successfully; it has allowed clients to retain property with equity in it while they get a problem loan refinanced or the property sold.

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