Borrowing Money? Get to Know the Truth in Lending Act

If you are considering purchasing a home or a car, or even just opening a credit card account, you should make yourself aware of the Truth in Lending Act, also known as the TILA. The Truth in Lending Act is a 1968 federal law that requires borrowers to make known certain information to potential customers before they utilize the borrowing services. The act is meant to make it easier and more standardized to shop for credit, and to better educate consumers about the true costs of extending a line of credit.

TILA requires that the potential lender disclose all associated costs of borrowing money before they are able to extend a line of credit. These costs include:

• The annual percentage rate

• The loan’s terms

• The total cost of the loan to the borrower.

This information must be presented in a standardized format, using standardized terminology. The lender must also share information disseminated by the Federal Reserve Board that explains a consumer’s rights when borrowing money. In particular cases, lenders must provide additional materials. In the case of an Adjustable Rate Mortgage, for example, lenders must provide information to consumers about the terms of that particular type of mortgage. The Truth in Lending Act also sets limits on how creditors can advertise their credit services.

Lenders are responsible for complying with the terms of the Truth in Lending Act. They can be held monetarily responsible for misleading or not informing consumers. You should be aware of what information a lender is required to give you before you begin shopping for credit. A lender who does not provide this information is not only breaking the law, but also likely a bad creditor to do business with. Always keep all documents that a lender has sent prior to and during the time you are drawing on a line of credit. These documents could be useful if you begin to suspect that you’ve been misled by your creditor.

If you have already purchased a home, car, or started a credit card and think that you have been misled by the credit company, you should contact an attorney who has experience in TILA cases. Just because you’re dissatisfied with the amount of money that you owe does not necessarily mean that you’ve been taken advantage of by a creditor. A real estate attorney, or one familiar with financial laws, can help assess if your claim is valid.

TILA cases often come to light when a bank begins the foreclosure process on a home. If your home is being foreclosed on because you are unable to make your payments, you should check with an attorney to assess your options. An attorney can help you determine if a bank’s violation of TILA may have led you into foreclosure.

Taking out a line of credit is always a serious business and, as a consumer, you should familiarize yourself with the terminology of borrowing, the terms of particular loans, and laws, such as the Truth in Lending Act that can protect you.

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