A Consumer Guide To Credit Protection Laws

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A Consumer Guide To Credit Protection Laws




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



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



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



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



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 to Federal Enforcement Agencies
Penalties Under the Laws








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.



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 instalment 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

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
instalments, 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

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 check overdraft 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

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

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

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 appraisers 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.



When you're ready to apply for credit, you should know what creditors
think is important in deciding whether you're credit worthy. 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

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 dependants 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

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 credit worthiness. 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, colour, 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

-- 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 credits coring system,

-- 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 credit worthiness 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 credit worthiness. So,
a creditor may consider such things as:

-- how old your dependants 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, colour, gender, or because of the race or
national origin of the people in the neighbourhood 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 neighbourhood.

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 co sign 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 credit worthy, a creditor may not ask your husband to co
sign 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 credit worthiness 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 credit
worthiness. The next chapter explains how to improve your ability to get

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.


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 bureau 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 co sign your application.

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

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 bureau 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 credit
worthiness. 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
unfavourable 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 analyse. 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 judgements, tax liens, arrest records, and most other
kinds of unfavourable 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 neighbours 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.



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
authorised 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

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 bureau 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
remodelling 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

You do not have to pay for any unauthorised 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 unauthorised 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.


Instant Money

On his way home last Friday night, John Jones realised 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 cheque less 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,
paper less 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
authorises the bank or a third party (such as an employer) to do so. For
example, consumers can authorise direct electronic deposit of wages, Social Security
or dividend payments to their accounts. Or, they can authorise 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 authorises a bank to
withdraw a certain amount of money from one person's account and pay that
amount to another person. Most consumer questions centre 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.

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 re credit 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 re credited 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 unauthorised 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

-- 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 unauthorised 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


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 realise 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
unauthorised 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 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

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 unauthorised 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 re credit 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

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.



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 credit

Credit worthiness -- 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 open ended 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

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

Balloon Payment
Cancellation (Rescission)
Credit Applications
Credit Bureau
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
Correcting Errors
Credit Records
Time Limits on Information
Credit Scoring
Crediting of Payments
Credit worthiness
Debit Cards
Defective Merchandise
Denials of Credit
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
Errors on Account
Liability for Loss or Theft
Preauthorized Transfers
Record of Transaction
Enforcement Agencies
Finance Charge
Housing Loans
Open-end Credit
Public Assistance
Reserve Banks
Settlement Costs
Alimony and Support Payments
Change in Marital Status
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

Non member 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


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 Centre
230 South LaSalle Street
P.O. Box 834
ZIP 60690-0834
(312) 322-5322

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

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

Public Affairs Department
925 Grand Avenue
ZIP 64198-0001
(816) 881-2000

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

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

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