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Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Washington, D.C. 20551
12th Printing, April 1993

Contents


INTRODUCTION

THE COST OF CREDIT

     Shopping Is the First Step
     What Laws Apply?
     The Finance Charge and Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
     A Comparison
     Cost of Open-end Credit
     Leasing Costs and Terms
     Open-end Leases and Balloon Payments 
     Costs of Settlement on a House

APPLYING FOR CREDIT

     Discrimination
     What Law Applies?
     What Creditors Look For
     Information the Creditor Can't Use
     Special Rules
     Discrimination Against Women
     If You're Turned Down

CREDIT HISTORIES AND RECORDS

     Building Up a Good Record 
     What Laws Apply?
     Credit Histories for Women
     Keeping Up Credit Records

OTHER ASPECTS OF USING CREDIT

     What Laws Apply?
     Billing Errors
     Defective Goods or Services
     Prompt Credit for Payments and Refunds for Credit Balances
     Cancelling a Mortgage
     Lost or Stolen Credit Cards
     Unsolicited Cards

ELECTRONIC FUND TRANSFERS

     Instant Money
     EFT in Operation 
     What Law Applies?
     What Record Will I Have of My Transactions?
     How Easily Will I Be Able to Correct Errors?
     What About Loss or Theft?
     What About Solicitations?
     Do I Have to Use EFT?
     Special Questions About Preauthorized Plans

COMPLAINING ABOUT CREDIT

     Complaining to Federal Enforcement Agencies
     Penalties Under the Laws

GLOSSARY

SUBJECT INDEX

DIRECTORY OF FEDERAL AGENCIES

FEDERAL RESERVE BANKS

OTHER CONSUMER PAMPHLETS AVAILABLE


INTRODUCTION


The Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968--which launched Truth in
Lending--was a landmark piece of legislation. For the first time,
creditors had to state the cost of borrowing in a common language so
that you--the customer--could figure out exactly what the charges would
be, compare costs, and shop around for the credit deal best for you.

Since 1968, credit protections have multiplied rapidly. The concepts of
"fair" and "equal" credit have been written into laws that outlaw unfair
discrimination in credit transactions; require that consumers be told
the reason when credit is denied; let borrowers find out about their
credit records; and set up a way to settle billing disputes.

Each law was meant to reduce the problems and confusion surrounding
consumer credit which, as it became more widely used in our economy,
also grew more complex. Together, these laws set a standard for how
individuals are to be treated in their financial dealings.

     The laws say, for instance:

  -- that you cannot be turned down for a credit card just because
     you're a single woman;

  -- that you can limit your risk if a credit card is lost or stolen;

  -- that you can straighten out errors in your monthly bill without
     damage to your credit rating; and

  -- that you won't find credit shut off just because you've reached the
     age of 65.

But, let the buyer be aware! It is important to know your fights and how
to use them. This handbook explains how the consumer credit laws can
help you shop for credit, apply for it, keep up your credit standing,
and--if need be--complain about an unfair deal. It explains what you
should look for when using credit and what creditors look for before
extending it. It also points out the laws' solutions to discriminatory
practices that have made it difficult for women and minorities to get
credit in the past.


THE COST OF CREDIT


Shopping is the First Step


You get credit by promising to pay in the future for something you
receive in the present.

Credit is a convenience. It lets you charge a meal on your credit card,
pay for an appliance on the installment plan, take out a loan to buy a
house, or pay for schooling or vacations. With credit, you can enjoy
your purchase while you're paying for it--or you can make a purchase
when you're lacking ready cash.

But there are strings attached to credit too. It usually costs
something. And of course what is borrowed must be paid back.

If you are thinking of borrowing or opening a credit account, your first
step should be to figure out how much it will cost you and whether you
can afford it. Then you should shop around for the best terms.


What Laws Apply?


Two laws help you compare costs:

TRUTH IN LENDING requires creditors to give you certain basic
information about the cost of buying on credit or taking out a loan.
These "disclosures" can help you shop around for the best deal.

CONSUMER LEASING disclosures can help you compare the cost and terms of
one lease with another and with the cost and terms of buying for cash or
on credit.


The Finance Charge and Annual Percentage Rate (APR)


Credit costs vary. By remembering two terms, you can compare credit
prices from different sources. Under Truth in Lending, the creditor must
tell you--in writing and before you sign any agreement--the finance
charge and the annual percentage rate.

The finance charge is the total dollar amount you pay to use credit. It
includes interest costs, and other costs, such as service charges and
some credit--related insurance premiums.

For example, borrowing $100 for a year might cost you $10 in interest.
If there were also a service charge of $1, the finance charge would be
$11.

The annual percentage rate (APR)is the percentage cost (or relative
cost) of credit on a yearly basis. This is your key to comparing costs,
regardless of the amount of credit or how long you have to repay it:

Again, suppose you borrow $100 for one year and pay a finance charge of
$10. If you can keep the entire $100 for the whole year and then pay
back $110 at the end of the year, you are paying an APR of 10 percent.
But, if you repay the $100 and finance charge (a total of $110) in
twelve equal monthly installments, you don't really get to use $100 for
the whole year. In fact, you get to use less and less of that $100 each
month. In this case, the $10 charge for credit amounts to an APR of 18
percent.

All creditors--banks, stores, car dealers, credit card companies,
finance companies-must state the cost of their credit in terms of the
finance charge and the APR. Federal law does not set interest rates or
other credit charges. But it does require their disclosure so that you
can compare credit costs. The law says these two pieces of information
must be shown to you before you sign a credit contract or before you use
a credit card.


A Comparison


Even when you understand the terms a creditor is offering, it's easy to
underestimate the difference in dollars that different terms can make.
Suppose you're buying a $7,500 car. You put $1,500 down, and need to
borrow $6,000. Compare the three credit arrangements on the next page.

How do these choices stack up? The answer depends partly on what you
need.

The lowest cost loan is available from Creditor A.

If you were looking for lower monthly payments, you could get then by
paying the loan off over a longer period of time. However, you would
have to pay more in total costs. A loan from Creditor B--also at a 14
percent APR, but for four years--will add about $488 to your finance
charge.

If that four-year loan were available only from Creditor C, the APR of
15 percent would add another $145 or so to your finance charges as
compared with Creditor B.

Other terms--such as the size of the down payment--will also make a
difference. Be sure to look at all the terms before you make your
choice.


Cost of Open-end Credit


Open-end credit includes bank and department store credit cards,
gasoline company cards, home equity lines, and checkoverdraft accounts
that let you write checks for more than your actual balance with the
bank. Open-end credit can be used again and again, generally until you
reach a certain prearranged borrowing limit. Truth in Lending requires
that open-end creditors tell you the terms of the credit plan so that
you can shop and compare the costs involved.

When you're shopping for an open-end plan, the APR you're told
represents only the periodic rate that you will be charged--figured on a
yearly basis. (For instance, a creditor that charges 1% percent interest
each month would quote you an APR of 18 percent.) Annual membership
fees, transaction charges, and points, for example, are listed
separately; they are not included in the APR. Keep this in mind and
compare all the costs involved in the plans, not just the APR.

Creditors must tell you when finance charges begin on your account, so
you know how much time you have to pay your bill before a finance charge
is added. Creditors may give you a 25-day grace period, for example, to
pay your balance in full before making you pay a finance charge.

Creditors also must tell you the method they use to figure the balance
on which you pay a finance charge; the interest rate they charge is
applied to this balance to come up with the finance charge. Creditors
use a number of different methods to arrive at the balance. Study them
carefully; they can significantly affect your finance charge.

Some creditors, for instance, take the amount you owed at the beginning
of the billing cycle, and subtract any payments you made during that
cycle. Purchases are not counted. This is called the adjusted balance
method.

Another is the previous balance method. Creditors simply use the amount
owed at the beginning of the billing cycle to come up with the finance
charge.

Under one of the most common methods-the average daily balance
method--creditors add your balances for each day in the billing cycle
and then divide that total by the number of days in the cycle. Payments
made during the cycle are subtracted in arriving at the daily amounts,
and, depending on the plan, new purchases may or may not be included.
Under another method--the two-cycle average daily balance
method--creditors use the average daily balances for two billing cycles
to compute your finance charge. Again, payments will be taken into
account in figuring the balances, but new purchases may or may not be
included.

Be aware that the amount of the finance charge may vary considerably
depending on the method used, even for the same pattern of purchases and
payments.

If you receive a credit card offer or an application, the creditor must
give you information about the APR and other important terms of the plan
at that time. Likewise, with a home equity plan, information must be
given to you with an application.

Truth in Lending does not set the rates or tell the creditor how to
calculate finance charges--it only requires that the creditor tell you
the method that it uses. You should ask for an explanation of any terms
you don't understand.


Leasing Costs and Terms


Leasing gives you temporary use of property in return for periodic
payments. It has become a popular alternative to buying--under certain
circumstances. For instance, you might consider leasing furniture for an
apartment you'll use only for a year. The Consumer Leasing law requires
leasing companies to give you the facts about the costs and terms of
their contracts, to help you decide whether leasing is a good idea.

The law applies to personal property leased to you for more than four
months for personal, family, or household use. It covers, for example,
long-term rentals of cars, furniture, and appliances, but not daily car
rentals or leases for apartments.

Before you agree to a lease, the leasing company must give you a written
statement of costs, including the amount of any security deposit, the
amount of your monthly payments, and the amount you must pay for
licensing, registration, taxes, and maintenance.

The company must also give you a written statement about terms,
including any insurance you need, any guarantees, information about who
is responsible for servicing the property, any standards for its wear
and tear, and whether or not you have an option to buy the property.


Open-end Leases and Balloon Payments


Your costs will depend on whether you choose an open-end lease or a
closed-end lease. Open-end leases usually mean lower monthly payments
than closed-end leases, but you may owe a large extra payment--often
called a balloon payment--based on the value of the property when you
return it.

Suppose you lease a car under a three-year open-end lease. The leasing
company estimates the car will be worth $4,000 after three years of
normal use. If you bring back the car in a condition that makes it worth
only $3,500, you may owe a balloon payment of $500.

The leasing company must tell you whether you may owe a balloon payment
and how it will be calculated. You should also know that:

  -- you have the right to an independent appraisal of the property's
     worth at the end of the lease. You must pay the appraiser's fee,
     however.

  -- a balloon payment is usually limited to no more than three times
     the average monthly payment. If your monthly payment is $ 200, your
     balloon payment wouldn't be more than $600--unless, for example,
     the property has received more than average wear and tear (for
     instance, if you drove a car more than average mileage).

Closed-end leases usually have higher monthly payment than open-end
leases, but there is no balloon payment at the end of the lease.


Costs of Settlement on a House


A house is probably the single largest credit purchase for most
consumers--and one of the most complicated. The Real Estate Settlement
Procedures Act, like Truth in Lending, is a disclosure law. The Act,
administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development,
requires the lender to give you, in advance, certain information about
the costs you will pay when you close the loan.

This event is called settlement or closing, and the law helps you shop
for lower settlement costs. To find out more about it, write to:

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing Attention:
RESPA Enforcement U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street, S.W. Room 5241
Washington, D.C. 20410

Should you need to phone:
(202) 708-4560

A Federal Reserve pamphlet, entitled "A Consumer's Guide to Mortgage
Closing Costs," also contains useful information for consumers.


APPLYING FOR CREDIT


Discrimination


When you're ready to apply for credit, you should know what creditors
think is important in deciding whether you're creditworthy. You should
also know what they cannot legally consider in their decisions.


What Law Applies?


EQUAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITY ACT requires that all credit applicants be
considered on the basis of their actual qualifications for credit and
not be turned away because of certain personal characteristics.


What Creditors Look For


The Three C's. Creditors look for an ability to repay debt and a
willingness to do so--and sometimes for a little extra security to
protect their loans. They speak of the three C's of credit-capacity,
character, and collateral.

Capacity. Can you repay the debt? Creditors ask for employment
information: your occupation, how long you've worked, and how much you
earn. They also want to know your expenses: how many dependents you
have, whether you pay alimony or child support, and the amount of your
other obligations.

Character. Will you repay the debt? Creditors will look at your credit
history (see chapter on Credit Histories and Records): how much you owe,
how often you borrow, whether you pay bills on time, and whether you
live within your means. They also look for signs of stability: how long
you've lived at your present address, whether you own or rent, and
length of your present employment.

Collateral. Is the creditor fully protected if you fail to repay?
Creditors want to know what you may have that could be used to back up
or secure your loan, and what sources you have for repaying debt other
than income, such as savings, investments, or property.

Creditors use different combinations of these facts in reaching their
decisions. Some set unusually high standards and other simply do not
make certain kinds of loans. Creditors also use different kinds of
rating systems. Some rely strictly on their own instinct and experience.
Others use a "credit-scoring" or statistical system to predict whether
you're a good credit risk. They assign a certain number of points to
each of the various characteristics that have proved to be reliable
signs that a borrower will repay. Then, they rate you on this scale.

And so, different creditors may reach different conclusions based on the
same set of facts. One may find you an acceptable risk, while another
may deny you a loan.


Information the Creditor Can't Use


The Equal Credit Opportunity Act does not guarantee that you will get
credit. You must still pass the creditor's tests of creditworthiness.
But the creditor must apply these tests fairly, impartially, and without
discriminating against you on any of the following grounds: age, gender,
marital status, race, color, religion, national origin, because you
receive public income such as veterans benefits, welfare or Social
Security, or because you exercise your rights under Federal credit laws
such as filing a billing error notice with a creditor. This means that a
creditor may not use any of those grounds as a reason to:

  -- discourage you from applying for a loan;

  -- refuse you a loan if you quality; or

  -- lend you money on terms different from those granted another person
     with similar income, expenses, credit history, and collateral.


Special Rules


Age. In the past, many older persons have complained about being denied
credit just because they were over a certain age. Or when they retired,
they often found their credit suddenly cut off or reduced. So the law is
very specific about how a person's age may be used in credit decisions.

A creditor may ask your age, but if you're old enough to sign a binding
contract (usually 18 or 21 years old depending on state law), a creditor
may not:

  -- turn you down or offer you less credit just because of your age;

  -- ignore your retirement income in rating your application;

  -- close your credit account or require you to reapply for it just
     because you reach a certain age or retire; or

  -- deny you credit or close your account because credit life insurance
     or other credit-related insurance is not available to persons your
     age.

     Creditors may "score" your age in a creditscoring system, but:

  -- if you are 62 or older you must be given at least as many points
     for age as any person under 62.

Because individuals' financial situations can change at different ages,
the law lets creditors consider certain information related to age--such
as how long until you retire or how long your income will continue. An
older applicant might not qualify for a large loan with a 5 percent down
payment on a risky venture, but might qualify for a smaller loan--with a
bigger down payment--secured by good collateral. Remember that while
declining income may be a handicap if you are older, you can usually
offer a solid credit history to your advantage. The creditor has to look
at all the facts and apply the usual standards of creditworthiness to
your particular situation.

Public Assistance. You may not be denied credit just because you receive
Social Security or public assistance (such as Aid to Families with
Dependent Children). But--as is the case with age--certain information
related to this source of income could clearly affect creditworthiness.
So, a creditor may consider such things as:

  -- how old your dependents are (because you may lose benefits when
     they reach a certain age); or

  -- whether you will continue to meet the residency requirements for
     receiving benefits.

This information helps the creditor determine the likelihood that your
public assistance income will continue.

Housing Loans. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act covers your application
for a mortgage or home improvement loan. It bans discrimination because
of such characteristics as your race, color, gender, or because of the
race or national origin of the people in the neighborhood where you live
or want to buy your home. Nor may creditors use any appraisal of the
value of the property that considers the race of the people in the
neighborhood.

In addition, you are entitled to receive a copy of an appraisal report
that you paid for in connection with an application for credit, if a you
make a written request for the report.


Discrimination Against Women


Both men and women are protected from discrimination based on gender or
marital status. But many of the law's provisions were designed to stop
particular abuses that generally made if difficult for women to get
credit. For example, the idea that single women ignore their debts when
they marry, or that a woman's income "doesn't count" because she'll
leave work to have children, now is unlawful in credit transactions.

The general rule is that you may not be denied credit just because you
are a woman, or just because you are married, single, widowed, divorced,
or separated. Here are some important protections:

Gender and Marital Status. Usually, creditors may not ask your gender on
an application form (one exception is on a loan to buy or build a home).

You do not have to use Miss, Mrs., or Ms. with your name on a credit
application. But, in some cases, a creditor may ask whether you are
married, unmarried, or separated (unmarried includes single, divorced,
and widowed).

Child-bearing Plans. Creditors may not ask about your birth control
practices or whether you plan to have children, and they may not assume
anything about those plans.

Income and Alimony. The creditor must count all of your income, even
income from part-time employment.

Child support and alimony payments are a primary source of income for
many women. You don't have to disclose these kinds of income, but if you
do creditors must count them.

Telephones. Creditors may not consider whether you have a telephone
listing in your name because this would discriminate against many
married women. (You may be asked if there's a telephone in your home.)

A creditor may consider whether income is steady and reliable, so be
prepared to show that you can count on uninterrupted
income--particularly if the source is alimony payments or part-time
wages.

Your Own Accounts. Many married women used to be turned down when they
asked for credit in their own name. Or, a husband had to cosign an
account--agree to pay if the wife didn't--even when a woman's own income
could easily repay the loan. Single women couldn't get loans because
they were thought to be somehow less reliable than other applicants. You
now have a fight to your own credit, based on your own credit records
and earnings. Your own credit means a separate account or loan in your
own name--not a joint account with your husband or a duplicate card on
his account. Here are the rules:

  -- Creditors may not refuse to open an account just because of your
     gender or marital status.

  -- You can choose to use your first name and maiden name (Mary Smith);
     your first name and husband's last name (Mary Jones); or a combined
     last name (Mary Smith-Jones).

  -- If you're creditworthy, a creditor may not ask your husband to
     cosign your account, with certain exceptions when property rights
     are involved.

  -- Creditors may not ask for information about your husband or
     ex-husband when you apply for your own credit based on your own
     income--unless that income is alimony, child support, or separate
     maintenance payments from your spouse or former spouse.

This last rule, of course, does not apply if your husband is going to
use your account or be responsible for paying your debts on the account,
or if you live in a community property state. (Community property states
are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas,
Washington and Wisconsin.)

Change in Marital Status. Married women have sometimes faced severe
hardships when cut off from credit after their husbands died. Single
women have had accounts closed when they married, and married women have
had accounts closed after a divorce. The law says that creditors may not
make you reapply for credit just because you marry or become widowed or
divorced. Nor may they close your account or change the terms of your
account on these grounds. There must be some sign that your
creditworthiness has changed. For example, creditors may ask you to
reapply if you relied on your ex-husband's income to get credit in the
first place.

Setting up your own account protects you by giving you your own history
of how you handle debt, to rely on if your financial situation changes
because you are widowed or divorced. If you're getting married and plan
to take your husband's surname, write to your creditors and tell them if
you want to keep a separate account.


If You're Turned Down


Remember, your gender or race may not be used to discourage you from
applying for a loan. And creditors may not hold up or otherwise delay
your application on those grounds. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity
Act, you must be notified within 30 days after your application has been
completed whether your loan has been approved or not. If credit is
denied, this notice must be in writing and it must explain the specific
reasons why you were denied credit or tell you of your right to ask for
an explanation. You have the same rights if an account you have had is
closed.

If you are denied credit, be sure to find out why. Remember, you may
have to ask the creditors for this explanation. It may be that the
creditor thinks you have requested more money than you can repay on your
income. It may be that you have not been employed or lived long enough
in the community. You can discuss terms with the creditor and ways to
improve your creditworthiness. The next chapter explains how to improve
your ability to get credit.

If you think you have been discriminated against, cite the law to the
lender. If the lender still says no without a satisfactory explanation,
you may contact a Federal enforcement agency for assistance or bring
legal action as described in the last chapter of this handbook.


CREDIT HISTORIES AND RECORDS


Building Up a Good Record


On your first attempt to get credit, you may face a common frustration:
sometimes it seems you have to already have credit to get credit. Some
creditors will look only at your salary and job and the other financial
information you put on your application. But most also want to know
about your track record in handling credit--how reliably you've repaid
past debts. They turn to the records kept by credit bureaus or credit
reporting agencies whose business is to collect and store information
about borrowers that is routinely supplied by many lenders. These
records include the amount of credit you have received and how
faithfully you've paid it back.

Here are several ways you can begin to build up a good credit history:

  -- Open a checking account or a savings account, or both. These do not
     begin your credit file, but may be checked as evidence that you
     have money and know how to manage it. Cancelled checks can be used
     to show you pay utility bills or rent regularly, a sign of
     reliability.

  -- Apply for a department store credit card. Repaying credit card
     bills on time is a plus in credit histories.

  -- Ask whether you may deposit funds with a financial institution to
     serve as collateral for a credit card; some institutions will issue
     a credit card with a credit limit usually no greater than the
     amount on deposit.

  -- If you're new in town, write for a summary of any credit record
     kept by a credit bureau in your former town. (Ask the bank or
     department store in your old hometown for the name of the agency it
     reports to.)

  -- If you don't qualify on the basis of your own credit standing,
     offer to have someone cosign your application.

  -- If you're turned down, find out why and try to clear up any
     misunderstandings.


What Laws Apply?


The following laws can help you start your credit history and keep your
record accurate:

THE EQUAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITY ACT gives women a way to start their own
credit history and identity.

THE FAIR CREDIT REPORTING ACT sets up a procedure for correcting
mistakes on your credit record.


Credit Histories for Women


Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, reports to credit bureaus must
be made in the names of both husband and wife if both use an account or
are responsible for repaying the debt. Some women who are divorced or
widowed might not have separate credit histories because in the past
credit accounts were listed in their husband's name only. But they can
still benefit from this record. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act,
creditors must consider the credit history of accounts women have held
jointly with their husbands. Creditors must also look at the record of
any account held only in the husband's name if a woman can show it also
reflects her own creditworthiness. If the record is unfavorable--if an
ex-husband was a bad credit risk--she can try to show that the record
does not reflect her own reputation. Remember that a wife may also open
her own account to be sure of starting her own credit history.

Here's an example:

Mary Jones, when married to John Jones, always paid their credit card
bills on time and from their joint checking account. But the card was
issued in John's name, and the credit bureau kept all records in John's
name. Now Mary is a widow and wants to take out a new card, but she's
told she has no credit history. To benefit from the good credit record
already on the books in John's name, Mary should point out that she
handled all accounts properly when she was married and that bills were
paid by checks from their joint checking account.


Keeping Up Credit Records


Mistakes on your credit record--sometimes mistaken identities--can cloud
your credit future. Your credit rating is important, so be sure credit
bureau records are complete and accurate.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act says that you must be told what's in your
credit file and have any errors corrected.

Negative Information. If a lender refuses you credit because of
unfavorable information in your credit report, you have a right to the
name and address of the agency that keeps your report. Then, you may
either request information from the credit bureau by mail or in person.
You will not get an exact copy of the file, but you will at least learn
what's in the report. The law also says that the credit bureau must help
you interpret the data--because it's raw data that takes experience to
analyze. If you're questioning a credit refusal made within the past 30
days, the bureau is not allowed to charge a fee for giving you
information.

Any error that you find must be investigated by the credit bureau with
the creditor who supplied the data. The bureau will remove from your
credit file any errors the creditor admits are there. If you disagree
with the findings, you can file a short statement in your record giving
your side of the story. Future reports to creditors must include this
statement or a summary of it.

Old Information. Sometimes credit information is too old to give a good
picture of your financial reputation. There is a limit on how long
certain kinds of information may be kept in your file:

  -- Bankruptcies must be taken off your credit history after 10 years.

  -- Suits and judgments, tax liens, arrest records, and most other
     kinds of unfavorable information must be dropped after 7 years.

Your credit record may not be given to anyone who does not have a
legitimate business need for it. Stores to which you are applying for
credit or prospective employers may examine your record; curious
neighbors may not.

Billing Mistakes. In the next chapter, you will find the steps to take
if there's an error on your bill. By following these steps, you can
protect your credit rating.


OTHER ASPECTS OF USING CREDIT


The best way to keep up your credit standing is to repay all debts on
time. But there may be complications. To protect your credit rating, you
should learn how to correct mistakes and misunderstandings that can
tangle up your credit accounts.

When there's a snag, first try to deal directly with the creditor. The
credit laws can help you settle your complaints without a hassle.


What Laws Apply?


FAIR CREDIT BILLING ACT sets up procedures requiring creditors to
promptly correct billing mistakes; allowing you to withhold payments on
defective goods; and requiring creditors to promptly credit your
payments.

IN LENDING gives you three days to change your mind about certain credit
transactions that use your home as collateral; it also limits your risk
on lost or stolen credit cards.


Billing Errors


Month after month John Jones was billed for a lawn mower he never
ordered and never got. Finally, he tore up his bill and mailed back the
pieces--just to try to explain things to a person instead of a computer.

There's a more effective, easier way to straighten out these errors. The
Fair Credit Billing Act requires creditors to correct errors promptly
and without damage to your credit rating.

A Case of Error. The law defines a billing error as any charge:

  -- for something you didn't buy or for a purchase made by someone not
     authorized to use your account;

  -- that is not properly identified on your bill or is for an amount
     different from the actual purchase price or was entered on a date
     different from the purchase date; or

  -- for something that you did not accept on delivery or that was not
     delivered according to agreement.

     Billing errors also include:

  -- errors in arithmetic;

  -- failure to show a payment or other credit to your account;

  -- failure to mail the bill to your current address, if you told the
     creditor about an address change at least 20 days before the end of
     the billing period; or

  -- a questionable item, or an item for which you need more
     information.

In Case of Error: If you think your bill is wrong, or want more
information about it, follow these steps:

  1. Notify the creditor in writing within 60 days after the first bill
     was mailed that showed the error. Be sure to write to the address
     the creditor lists for billing inquiries and to tell the creditor:

          -- your name and account number;

          -- that you believe the bill contains an error and why you
             believe it is wrong; and

          -- the date and suspected amount of the error or the item you
             want explained.

  2. Pay all parts of the bill that are not in dispute. But, while
     waiting for an answer, you do not have to pay the amount in
     question (the "disputed amount") or any minimum payments or finance
     charges that apply to it.

     The creditor must acknowledge your letter within 30 days, unless
     the problem can be resolved within that time. Within two billing
     periods--but in no case longer than 90 days--either your account
     must be corrected or you must be told why the creditor believes the
     bill is correct.

     If the creditor made a mistake, you do not pay any finance charges
     on the disputed amount. Your account must be corrected, and you
     must be sent an explanation of any amount you still owe.

     If no error is found, the creditor must send you an explanation of
     the reasons for that finding and promptly send a statement of what
     you owe, which may include any finance charges that have
     accumulated and any minimum payments you missed while you were
     questioning the bill. You then have the time usually given on your
     type of account to pay any balance, but not less that 10 days.

  3. If you still are not satisfied, you should notify the creditor in
     writing within the time allowed to pay your bill.

     Maintaining Your Credit Rating. A creditor may not threaten your
     credit rating while you're resolving a billing dispute.

     Once you have written about a possible error, a creditor must not
     give out information to other creditors or credit bureaus that
     would hurt your credit reputation. And, until your complaint is
     answered, the creditor also may not take any action to collect the
     disputed amount.

     After the creditor has explained the bill, if you do not pay in the
     time allowed, you may be reported as delinquent on the amount in
     dispute and the creditor may take action to collect. Even so, you
     can still disagree in writing. Then the creditor must report that
     you have challenged your bill and give you the name and address of
     each person who has received information about your account. When
     the matter is settled, the creditor must report the outcome to each
     person who has received information. Remember that you may also
     place your own side of the story in your credit record.


Defective Goods or Services


Your new sofa arrives with only three legs. You try to return it; no
luck. You ask the merchant to repair or replace it; still no luck. The
Fair Credit Billing Act allows you to withhold payment on any damaged or
poor quality goods or services purchased with a credit card, as long as
you have made a real attempt to solve the problem with the merchant.

This right may be limited if the card was a bank or travel and
entertainment card or any card not issued by the store where you made
your purchase. In such cases, the sale:

  -- must have been for more than $50; and

  -- must have taken place in your home state or within 100 miles of
     your home address.


Prompt Credit for Payments and Refunds for Credit Balances


Some creditors will not charge a finance charge if you pay your account
within a certain period of time. In this case, it is especially
important that you get your bills, and get credit for paying them,
promptly. Check your statements to make sure your creditor follows these
rules:

Billing. Look at the date on the postmark. If your account is one on
which no finance or other charge is added before a certain due date,
then creditors must mail their statements at least 14 days before
payment is due.

Crediting. Look at the payment date entered on the statement. Creditors
must credit payments on the day they arrive, as long as you pay
according to payment instructions. This means, for example, sending your
payment to the address listed on the bill.

Credit Balances. If a credit balance results on your account (for
example, because you pay more than the amount you owe, or you return a
purchase and the purchase price is credited to your account), the
creditor must make a refund to you. The refund must be made within seven
business days after your written request, or automatically if the credit
balance is still in existence after six months.


Cancelling a Mortgage


Truth in Lending gives you a chance to change your mind on one important
kind of transaction--when you use your home as security for a credit
transaction. For example, when you are financing a major repair or
remodeling and use your home as security, you have three business days,
usually after you sign a contract, to think about the transaction and to
cancel it if you wish. The creditor must give you written notice of your
right to cancel, and, if you decide to cancel, you must notify the
creditor in writing within the three-day period. The creditor must then
return all fees paid and cancel the security interest in your home. No
contractor may start work on your home, and no lender may pay you or the
contractor until the three days are up. If you must have the credit
immediately to meet a financial emergency, you may give up your right to
cancel by providing a written explanation of the circumstances.

The right to cancel (or right of rescission) was provided to protect you
against hasty decisions--or decisions made under pressure--that might
put your home at risk if you are unable to repay the loan. The law does
not apply to a mortgage to finance the purchase of your home; for that,
you commit yourself as soon as you sign the mortgage contract. And, if
you use your home to secure an open-end credit line--a home equity line,
for instance--you have the right the cancel when you open the account or
when your security interest or credit limit is increased. (In the case
of an increase, only the increase would be cancelled.)


Lost or Stolen Credit Cards


If your wallet is stolen, your greatest cost may be inconvenience,
because your liability on lost or stolen cards is limited under Truth in
Lending.

You do not have to pay for any unauthorized charges made after you
notify the card company of loss or theft of your card. So keep a list of
your credit card numbers and notify card issuers immediately if your
card is lost or stolen. The most you will have to pay for unauthorized
charges is $50 on each card--even if someone runs up several hundred
dollars worth of charges before you report a card missing.


Unsolicited Cards


It is illegal for card issuers to send you a credit card unless you ask
for or agree to receive one. However, a card issuer may send, without
your request, a new card to replace an expiring one.


ELECTRONIC FUND TRANSFERS


Instant Money


On his way home last Friday night, John Jones realized he had no cash
for the weekend. The bank was closed, but John had his bank debit card
and the code to use it. He inserted the card into an automated teller
machine outside the front door of the bank; then, using a number
keyboard, he entered his code and pressed the buttons for a withdrawal
of $50. John's cash was dispensed automatically from the machine, and
his bank account was electronically debited for the $50 cash withdrawal.

John's debit card is just one way to use electronic fund transfer (EFT)
systems that allow payment between parties by substituting an electronic
signal for cash or checks.

Are we heading for a checkless society? Probably not. But a dent in the
number of paper checks in the country's banking system--or a reduction
in the rate at which that number has been growing--is clearly one
advantage to electronic banking.

Today, the cost of moving checks through the banking system is estimated
to be approximately 80 cents per check, including the costs of paper,
printing, and mailing. Moreover, checks--except your own check presented
at your own bank--take time to cash: time for delivery, endorsement,
presentation to another person's bank, and winding through various
stations in the check clearing system. Technology now can lower the
costs of the payment mechanism and make it more efficient and convenient
by reducing paperwork.


EFT in Operation


The national payment mechanism moves money between accounts in a fast,
paperless way. These are some examples of EFT systems in operation:

Teller Machines (ATMs). Consumers can do their banking without the
assistance of a teller, as john Jones did to get cash, or to make
deposits, pay bills, or transfer funds from one account to another
electronically. These machines are used with a debit or EFT card and a
code, which is often called a personal identification number or "PIN."

(POS) Transactions. Some EFT cards can be used when shopping to allow
the transfer of funds from the consumer's account to the merchant's. To
pay for a purchase, the consumer presents an EFT card instead of a check
or cash. Money is taken out of the consumer's account and put into the
merchant's account electronically.

Preauthorized Transfers. This is a method of automatically depositing to
or withdrawing funds from an individual's account, when the account
holder authorizes the bank or a third party (such as an employer) to do
so. For example, consumers can authorize direct electronic deposit of
wages, Social Security or dividend payments to their accounts. Or, they
can authorize financial institutions to make regular, ongoing payments
of insurance, mortgage, utility or other bills.

Telephone Transfers. Consumers can transfer funds from one account to
another--from savings to checking, for example--or can order payment of
specific bills by phone.


What Law Applies?


THE ELECTRONIC FUND TRANSFER ACT gives consumers answers to several
basic questions about using EFT services.

A check is a piece of paper with information that authorizes a bank to
withdraw a certain amount of money from one person's account and pay
that amount to another person. Most consumer questions center on the
fact that EFT systems transmit the information without the paper. Thus,
they ask:

  -- What record--what evidence--will I have of my transactions?

  -- How easily will I be able to correct errors?

  -- What if someone steals money from my account?

  -- What about solicitations?

  -- Do I have to use EFT services?

Here are the answers the EFT Act gives to consumer questions about these
systems.


What Record Will I Have of My Transactions?


A cancelled check is permanent proof that a payment has been made. Is
proof of payment available with EFT services?

The answer is yes. If you use an ATM to withdraw money or make deposits,
or a point-of-sale terminal to pay for a purchase, you can get a written
receipt--much like the sales receipt you get with a cash
purchase--showing the amount of the transfer, the date it was made, and
other information. This receipt is your record of transfers initiated at
an electronic terminal.

Your periodic bank statement must also show all electronic transfers to
and from your account, including those made with debit cards, by a
preauthorized arrangement, or under a telephone transfer plan. It will
also name the party to whom payment has been made and show any fees for
EFT services (or the total amount charged for account maintenance) and
your opening and closing balances.

Your monthly statement is proof of payment to another person, your
record for tax or other purposes, and your way of checking and
reconciling EFT transactions with your bank balance.


How Easily Will I Be Able to Correct Errors?


The way to report errors is somewhat different with EFT services than it
is with credit cards (see page 22 for correcting credit billing errors).
But, as with credit cards, financial institutions must investigate and
correct promptly any EFT errors you report.

If you believe there has been an error in an electronic fund transfer
relating to your account:

  1. Write or call your financial institution immediately if possible,
     but no later than 60 days from the date the first statement that
     you think shows an error was mailed to you. Give your name and
     account number and explain why you believe there is an error, what
     kind of error, and the dollar amount and date in question. If you
     call, you may be asked to send this information in writing within
     10 business days.

  2. The financial institution must promptly investigate an error and
     resolve it within 45 days. However, if the financial institution
     takes longer than 10 business days to complete its investigation,
     generally it must put back into your account the amount in question
     while it finishes the investigation. (The time periods are longer
     for POS debit card transactions and for any EFT transaction
     initiated outside the United States.) In the meantime, you will
     have full use of the funds in question.

  3. The financial institution must notify you of the results of its
     investigation. If there was an error, the institution must correct
     it promptly--for example, by making a recredit final.

     If it finds no error, the financial institution must explain in
     writing why it believes no error occurred and let you know that it
     has deducted any amount recredited during the investigation. You
     may ask for copies of documents relied on in the investigation.


What About Loss or Theft?


It's important to be aware of the potential risk in using an EFT card,
which differs from the risk on a credit card.

On lost or stolen credit cards, your loss is limited to $50 per card
(see page 25). On an EFT card, your liability for an unauthorized
withdrawal can vary:

  -- Your loss is limited to $50 if you notify the financial institution
     within two business days after learning of loss or theft of your
     card or code.

  -- But, you could lose as much as $500 if you do not tell the card
     issuer within two business days after learning of the loss or
     theft.

  -- If you do not report an unauthorized transfer that appears on your
     statement within 60 days after the statement is mailed to you, you
     risk unlimited loss on transfers made after the 60-day period. That
     means you could lose all the money in your account plus your
     maximum overdraft line of credit.

Example:

On Monday, john's debit card and secret code were stolen. On Tuesday,
the thief withdrew $250, all the money John had in his checking account.
Five days later, the thief withdrew another $500, triggering John's
overdraft line of credit. John did not realize his card was stolen until
he received a statement from the bank, showing withdrawals of $750 he
did not make. He called the bank right away. John's liability is $50.

Now suppose that when john got his bank statement he didn't look at it
and didn't call the bank. Seventy days after the statement was mailed to
john, the thief withdrew another $1,000, reaching the limit on John's
line of credit. In this case, John would be liable for $1,050 ($50 for
transfers before the end of the 60 days; $1,000 for transfers made more
than 60 days after the statement was mailed).


What About Solicitations?


A financial institution may send you an EFT card that is VALID FOR USE
only if you ask for one, or to replace or renew an expiring card. The
financial institution must also give you the following information about
your rights and responsibilities:

  -- A notice of your liability in case the card is lost or stolen;

  -- A telephone number for reporting loss or theft of the card or an
     unauthorized transfer;

  -- A description of its error resolution procedures;

  -- The kinds of electronic fund transfers you may make and any limits
     on the frequency or dollar amounts of such transfers;

  -- Any charge by the institution for using EFT services;

  -- Your right to receive records of electronic fund transfers;

  -- How to stop payment of a preauthorized transfer;

  -- The financial institution's liability to you for any failure to
     make or to stop transfers; and

  -- The conditions under which a financial institution will give
     information to third parties about your account.

Generally, you must also get advance notice of any change in the account
that would increase your costs or liability, or limit transfers.

A financial institution may send you a card you did not request only if
the card is NOT VALID FOR USE. An "unsolicited" card can be validated
only at your request and only after the institution makes sure that you
are the person whose name is on the card. It must also be sent with
instructions on how to dispose of an unwanted card.


Do I Have to Use EFT?


The EFT Act forbids a creditor from requiring you to repay a loan or
other credit by EFT, except in the case of overdraft checking plans.
And, although your employer or a government agency can require you to
receive your salary or a government benefit by electronic transfer, you
have the right to choose the financial institution that will receive
your funds.


Special Questions About Preauthorized Plans


     Q. How will I know a preauthorized credit has been made?

     A. There are various ways you may be notified. Notice may be given
        by your employer (or whoever is sending the funds) that the
        deposit has been sent to your financial institution. Otherwise,
        a financial institution may provide notice when it has received
        the credit or will send you a notice only when it has not
        received the funds. Financial institutions also have the option
        of giving you a telephone number you can call to check on a
        preauthorized credit.

     Q. How do I stop a preauthorized payment?

     A. You may stop any preauthorized payment by calling or writing the
        financial institution, so that your order is received at least
        three business days before the payment date. Written
        confirmation of a telephone notice to stop payment may be
        required.

     Q. If the payments I preauthorize vary in amount from month to
        month, how will I know how much will be transferred out of my
        account?

     A. You have the right to be notified of all varying payments at
        least 10 days in advance.

          Or, you may choose to specify a range of amounts and to be
          told only when a transfer falls outside that range. You may
          also choose to be told only when a transfer differs by a
          certain amount from the previous payment to the same company.

     Q. Do the EFT Act protections apply to all preauthorized plans?

     A. No. They do not apply to automatic transfers from your account
        to the institution that holds your account or vice versa. For
        example, they do not apply to automatic payments made on a
        mortgage held by the financial institution where you have your
        EFT account. The EFT Act also does not apply to automatic
        transfers among your accounts at one financial institution.


COMPLAINING ABOUT CREDIT


Complaining to Federal Enforcement Agencies


First try to solve your problem directly with a creditor. Only if that
fails should you bring more formal complaint procedures. Here's the way
to file a complaint with the Federal agencies responsible for carrying
out consumer credit protection laws.

Complaints About Banks. If you have a complaint about a bank in
connection with any of the Federal credit laws--or if you think any part
of your business with a bank has been handled in an unfair or deceptive
way--you may get advice and help from the Federal Reserve. The practice
you complain about does not have to be covered by Federal law.
Furthermore, you don't have to be a customer of the bank to file a
complaint.

You should submit your complaint--in writing whenever possible--to the
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, Board of Governors of the
Federal Reserve System, Washington, D.C. 20551, or to the Reserve Bank
nearest you, as listed on page 43 of this handbook. Be sure to describe
the bank practice you are complaining about and give the name and
address of the bank involved.

The Federal Reserve will write back within 15 days--sometimes with an
answer, sometimes telling you that more time is needed to handle your
complaint. The additional time is required when complex issues are
involved or when the complaint will be investigated by a Federal Reserve
Bank. When this is the case, the Federal Reserve will try to keep you
informed about the progress being made.

The Board supervises only state--chartered banks that are members of the
Federal Reserve System. It will refer complaints about other
institutions to the appropriate Federal regulatory agency and let you
know where your complaint has been referred. Or you may use the listing
on page 42 of this booklet to write directly to the appropriate agency.

Complaints About Other Institutions. On page 42 of this booklet, you
will also find the names of the regulatory agencies for other financial
institutions and for businesses other than banks. Many of these agencies
do not handle individual complaints; however, they will use information
about your credit experiences to help enforce the credit laws.


Penalties Under the Laws


You may also take legal action against a creditor. If you decide to
bring a lawsuit, here are the penalties a creditor must pay if you win.

Truth in Lending and Consumer Leasing Acts. If any creditor fails to
disclose information required under these Acts, or gives inaccurate
information, or does not comply with the rules about credit cards or the
right to cancel certain home--secured loans, you as an individual may
sue for actual damages--any money loss you suffer. In addition, you can
sue for twice the finance charge in the case of certain credit
disclosures, or, if a lease is concerned, 25 percent of total monthly
payments. In either case, the least the court may award you if you win
is $100, and the most is $1,000. In any lawsuit that you win, you are
entitled to reimbursement for court costs and attorney's fees.

Class action suits are also permitted. A class action suit is one filed
on behalf of a group of people with similar claims.

Equal Credit Opportunity Act. If you think you can prove that a creditor
has discriminated against you for any reason prohibited by the Act, you
as an individual may sue for actual damages plus punitive damages--that
is, damages for the fact that the law has been violated--of up to
$10,000. In a successful lawsuit, the court will award you court costs
and a reasonable amount for attorney's fees. Class action suits are also
permitted.

Fair Credit Billing Act. A creditor who breaks the rules for the
correction of billing errors automatically loses the amount owed on the
item in question and any finance charges on it, up to a combined total
of $50--even if the bill was correct. You as an individual may also sue
for actual damages plus twice the amount of any finance charges, but in
any case not less than $100 nor more than $1,000. You are also entitled
to court costs and attorney's fees in a successful lawsuit. Class action
suits are also permitted.

Fair Credit Reporting Act. You may sue any credit reporting agency or
creditor for breaking the rules about who may see your credit records or
for not correcting errors in your file. Again, you are entitled to
actual damages, p]us punitive damages that the court may allow if the
violation is proved to have been intentional. In any successful lawsuit,
you will also be awarded court costs and attorney's fees. A person who
obtains a credit report without proper authorization--or an employee of
a credit reporting agency who gives a credit report to unauthorized
persons--may be fined up to $5,000 or imprisoned for one year, or both.

Electronic Fund Transfer Act. If a financial institution does not follow
the provisions of the EFT Act, you may sue for actual damages (or in
certain cases when the institution fails to correct an error or recredit
an account, for three times actual damages) plus punitive damages of not
less than $100 nor more than $1,000. You are also entitled to court
costs and attorney's fees in a successful lawsuit. Class action suits
are also permitted.

If an institution fails to make an electronic fund transfer, or to stop
payment of a preauthorized transfer when properly instructed by you to
do so, you may sue for all damages that result from the failure.


Glossary


Annual Percentage Rate (APR) -- The cost of credit as a yearly rate.

Appraisal Fee -- The charge for estimating the value of property offered
as security.

Asset -- Property that can be used to repay debt, such as stocks and
bonds or a car.

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) -- Electronic terminals located on bank
premises or elsewhere, through which customers of financial institutions
may make deposits, withdrawals, or other transactions as they would
through a bank teller.

Balloon Payment -- A large extra payment that may be charged at the end
of a loan or lease.

Billing Error -- Any mistake in your monthly statement as defined by the
Fair Credit Billing Act.

Business Days -- Check with your institution to find out what days it
counts as business days under the Truth in Lending and Electronic Fund
Transfer Acts.

Collateral -- Property offered to support a loan and subject to seizure
if you default.

Cosigner -- Another person who signs your loan and assumes equal
responsibility for it.

Credit -- The right granted by a creditor to pay in the future in order
to buy or borrow in the present; a sum of money due a person or
business.

Credit Bureau -- An agency that keeps your credit record.

Credit Card -- Any card, plate, or coupon book used from time to time or
over and over again to borrow money or buy goods or services on credit.

Credit History -- The record of how you've borrowed and repaid debts.

Creditor -- A person or business from whom you borrow or to whom you owe
money.

Credit-related Insurance -- Health, life, or accident insurance designed
to pay the outstanding balance of debt.

Credit Scoring System -- A statistical system used to rate credit
applicants according to various characteristics relevant to
creditworthiness.

Creditworthiness -- Past and future ability to repay debts.

Debit Card (EFT Card) -- A plastic card, looks similar to a credit card,
that consumers may use to make purchases, withdrawals, or other types of
electronic fund transfers.

Default -- Failure to repay a loan or otherwise meet the terms of your
credit agreement.

Disclosures -- Information that must be given to consumers about their
financial dealings.

Elderly Applicant -- As defined in the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, a
person 62 or older.

Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) Systems -- A variety of systems and
technologies for transferring funds electronically rather than by check.

Finance Charge -- The total dollar amount credit will cost.

Home Equity Line of Credit -- A form of openend credit in which the home
serves as collateral.

Joint Account -- A credit account held by two or more people so that all
can use the account and all assume legal responsibility to repay.

Late Payment -- A payment made later than agreed upon in a credit
contract and on which additional charges may be imposed.

Lessee -- A person who signs a lease to get temporary use of property.

Lessor -- A company that provides temporary use of property usually in
return for periodic payment.

Liability on an Account -- Legal responsibility to repay debt.

Open-End Credit -- A line of credit that may be used over and over
again, including credit cards, overdraft credit accounts, and home
equity lines.

Open-End Lease -- A lease which may involve a balloon payment based on
the value of the property when it is returned.

Overdraft Checking -- A line of credit that allows you to write checks
or draw funds by means of an EFT card for more than your actual balance,
with an interest charge on the overdraft.

Point-of-Sale (POS) -- A method by which consumers can pay for purchases
by having their deposit accounts debited electronically without the use
of checks.

Points and Origination Fees -- Points are finance charges paid at the
beginning of a mortgage in addition to monthly interest. One point
equals one percent of the loan amount. An origination fee covers the
lender's work in preparing your mortgage loan.

Punitive Damages -- Damages awarded by a court above actual damages as
punishment for a violation of law.

Rescission -- The cancellation or "unwinding" of a contract.

Security -- Property pledged to the creditor in case of a default on a
loan; see collateral.

Security Interest -- The creditor's right to take property or a portion
of property offered as security.

Service Charge -- A component of some finance charges, such as the fee
for triggering an overdraft checking account into use.


Subject Index


Age 
APR 
Balloon Payment 
Cancellation (Rescission)
Complaints
Credit Applications 
Credit Bureaus 
Credit Cards
     Billing Errors 
     Liability for Loss or Theft 
Credit Laws
     Consumer Leasing 
     Electronic Fund Transfers 
     Equal Credit Opportunity 
     Fair Credit Billing 
     Fair Credit Reporting
     Truth in Lending
Credit Records
     Confidentiality
     Correcting Errors 
     Women 
Credit Records
     Time Limits on Information 
Credit Scoring
Crediting of Payments 
Creditworthiness 
Debit Cards 
Defective Merchandise 
Denials of Credit 
Discrimination 
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs 
EFT
     Errors on Account 
     Liability for Loss or Theft 
     Preauthorized Transfers 
     Record of Transaction 
Enforcement Agencies
Finance Charge 
Housing Loans
Leasing
Open-end Credit
Penalties
Point-of-Sale
Public Assistance
Reserve Banks
Settlement Costs
Women
     Alimony and Support Payments
     Change in Marital Status
     Cosigners 
     Credit Histories
     Information About Spouse 
     Separate Accounts 



Directory of Federal Agencies


National Banks
Compliance Management
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
250 E Street, S.W.
Mail Stop 7-5
Washington, D.C. 20219
(202) 874-4820

State Member Banks of the Federal Reserve System
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
Federal Reserve Board
Washington, D.C. 20551
(202) 452-3693

Nonmember Federally Insured State Banks
Office of Consumer Programs
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. 
Washington, D.C. 20456
(202) 898-3536 or (800) 934-FDIC

Savings and Loan Associations
Division of Consumer and Civil Rights
Office of Community Investment
Office of Thrift Supervision
1700 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20552
(202) 906-6237

Federal Credit Unions
Office of Public and Congressional Affairs
Office of Consumer Programs
National Credit Union Administration
1776 G Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20456
(202) 682-9640

Other Lenders
Division of Credit Practices
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580
(202) 326-3233

Department of Justice
Civil Division
Office of Consumer Litigation
550 11th St., N.W.
The Todd Building
Room No. 6114
Washington, D.C. 20530
(202) 514-6786


Federal Reserve Banks


BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
Publication Services MS-138
Washington, DC 20551
(202) 452-3000

ATLANTA, Georgia
Public Affairs Department
104 Marietta Street, N.W.
ZIP 30303-2713
(404) 521-8500

BOSTON, Massachusetts
Public Services Department
P.O. Box 2076
ZIP 02106-2076
(617) 973-3000

CHICAGO, Illinois
Public Information Center
230 South LaSalle Street
P.O. Box 834
ZIP 60690-0834
(312) 322-5322

CLEVELAND, Ohio
Public Affairs Department
P.O. Box 6387
ZIP 44101-1387
(216) 579-2000

DALLAS, Texas
Public Affairs Department
2200 North Pearl Street
Zip 75201
(214) 922-6000

KANSAS CITY, Missouri
Public Affairs Department
925 Grand Avenue
ZIP 64198-0001
(816) 881-2000

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota
Public Affairs Department
250 Marquette Avenue
ZIP 55401-0291
(612) 340-2345

NEW YORK, New York
Public Information Department
33 Liberty Street
ZIP 10045
(212) 720-5000

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania
Public Information Department
P.O. Box 66
ZIP 19105
(215) 574-6000

RICHMOND, Virginia
Public Services Department
P.O. Box 27622
ZIP 23261
(804) 697-8000

ST. LOUIS, Missouri
Public Information Office
P.O. Box 442
ZIP 63166
(314) 444-8444

SAN FRANCISCO, California
Public Information Department
P.O. Box 7702
ZIP 94120
(415) 974-2000


Other Consumer Pamphlets Available


    Consumer Handbook of Adjustable Rate Mortgages

    A Consumer's Guide to Mortgage Closing Costs

    A Consumer's Guide to Mortgage Lock-Ins

    A Consumer's Guide to Mortgage Refinancings

    A Guide to Business Credit for Women, Minorities, and Small Businesses

    Home Mortgages: Understanding the Process and Your Right to Fair Lending

    A Guide to Federal Reserve Regulations

    How To File a Consumer Credit Complaint

    Making Deposits: When Will Your Money Be Available?

    When Your Home is on the Line: What You Should Know About Home
    Equity Lines of Credit

Copies of this handbook and other consumer pamphlets are available upon
request from Publications Services, Division of Support Services, Board
of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, D.C. 20551

 

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