What can the creditors of unsecured credit cards do if I am unemployed? 22 Answers as of June 21, 2013

I have lost my job and can not make my credit card payments. Do I have to file for bankruptcy to protect my house equity? What actions can they take against me?

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Law Office of John C. Farrell, Jr.
Law Office of John C. Farrell, Jr. | John C. Farrell, Jr.
The creditors can still sue you even though you are unemployed. Whether or not it happens depends on the aggressivness of the creditor. With respect to your home, you should file for a Homestead exemption you if have not already. In Massachusetts the home is protected against creditors claims up to $500,000. You can go to the registry of deeds to do this.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 9/27/2011
Theodore N. Stapleton, PC
Theodore N. Stapleton, PC | Theodore N. Stapleton
They could file a lawsuit, get a judgment and put a lien on your house so that whenever you sell it they will get paid.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 9/26/2011
Law Office of Asaph Abrams
Law Office of Asaph Abrams | Asaph Abrams
Creditors' judgments can effect liens upon real property. This answer (as well as our Web site) doesn't address all facts & implications of the question; it's general info, not legal advice to be relied upon; it creates no attorney-client relationship; it may be pertinent to CA only; it's independent of other answers.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/26/2011
Kalra Law Firm
Kalra Law Firm | Madhu Kalra
Creditor may choose to either settle their claim with you at discounted amount or choose to pursue in court by filing lawsuit for debt collection, after obtaining judgment, may record a lien upon your real property, to attach it with the equity in the home, if any.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/26/2011
Law Office of Andrew Harris
Law Office of Andrew Harris | Andrew Harris
The credit card companies can sue you and get a judgment against you (which will end up being for a good amount more than you already owe them). A judgment most likely automatically creates a lien on your real estate. Besides the lien, there's 2 things they can do with a judgment: 1) garnish your wages (which you don't have to worry about now, but can take effect if you return to work), and/or 2) put a levy on your bank account, and withdraw any funds you have in there on that random day. I recommend making an appointment with a bankruptcy attorney in your area that offers a free consultation, similar to what I do here in Central Oregon. A bankruptcy attorney will present all your options, perhaps there is a better alternative than simply filing bankruptcy.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 9/23/2011
    Bankruptcy Law Center
    Bankruptcy Law Center | Bill Zurinskas
    Credit card companies generally work a defaulted credit card obligation with their in-house collectors for approx. 6 mos. At some point they will give up (they usually send you a letter that the debt will be charged off), and, at that time, they may decide to hire an attorney and sue you, or, after charge off, they will sell the debt to a debt buyer or assign the account for collection with a collection agency. Don't assume that if a debt is charged off, you do not owe the debt (unless you receive a 1099). At some point before the 6 year statute of limitations run, you will probably be sued by someone. A District Court judgment can be collected upon for up to 20 years (unless revived).
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    If you are unemployed contact your creditors to make an arrangement. If you can't pay them they have the right to sue you. Also, you may want to contact an attorney to discuss whether it makes sense to file bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc.
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc. | David VanDyke
    They can do a variety of evil things to you, including putting a lien on your home, levying on bank accounts and garnishing wages.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Heupel Law
    Heupel Law | Kevin Heupel
    After a creditor obtains a judgment, the creditor can put a lien on yours, garnish funds in your bank accounts, and garnish wages once you return to work.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    The Law Offices of Katie M. Stone
    The Law Offices of Katie M. Stone | Katie M. Stone
    Your creditors can sue you, but until they do that they cannot do anything except for attempt to collect the debt. In Florida, homestead protects the house you live in full time from most creditors filing a lien against it. I would make sure you have homestead on your house (go to the tax collector in your county and ask them the procedure if you haven't don't this already) and contact your creditors to let them know your situation to see if they have any deferment or forbearance while you are going through this tough time. If you don't like them contacting you or attempting to collect the debt, bankruptcy would help make that stop. I hope you found this answer useful.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Dan Wilson Bankruptcy
    Dan Wilson Bankruptcy | Dan Wilson
    Your creditors can sue you and get a judgment. They can place a lien on your home. Its very difficult to foreclose a judgment lien on a residence in Colorado. The lien will just sit there as a cloud on your title, which must be satisfied if you ever want to refinance or sell your home.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    Once you stop paying unsecured creditors they can take you to civil court to get a judgment against you. If they get a judgment, that judgment becomes a lien on your home. In addition, they have the ability to freeze your bank account and to garnish salary if you have any. Bankruptcy will prevent all of this from happening and will protect a lien from attaching to your home.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    David M. Siegel & Associates
    David M. Siegel & Associates | David M. Siegel
    A creditor can pursue you whether or not you are employed. Once a judgment is obtained, the creditor can then attempt to garnish wages when you become employed, try to seize bank accounts and otherwise attempt to collect on the judgment which is accruing interest.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
    It depends on how much your total credit card debt is.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/21/2013
    Paul Stuber, Attorney at Law
    Paul Stuber, Attorney at Law | Paul Stuber
    They could sue you, get a judgement and put a lien on your home and wait for you to get a job so they can garnish wages.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    See a lawyer. They can get a judgement against you which will become a lien on your house at 10% interest per year.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Colorado Legal Solutions
    Colorado Legal Solutions | Stephen Harkess
    Creditors who sue you and get a judgment can place a lien on your house, but they will not foreclose and try to take your house way unless you have a lot of equity (well above $60,000 in Colorado). The lien will simply sit there until you refinance or sell the house. At that time the judgment must be paid. Creditors may also try to garnish your bank account if you have money in the bank. Beyond these tactics, there are no other common ways to collect a judgment from a debtor without a job. Few creditors will go beyond these tactics.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    Your unsecured creditors may file suit against you for breach of contract, obtain a judgment, and seek to enforce that judgment. They may place liens on property you own. They may wait to enforce the judgment until you have income again, then seek a garnishment of your wages. Judgments in Massachusetts are valid for 20 years and can be renewed after that period has expired. Check to see if there is a homestead filed for your house which will protect the equity you have in it. If possible, contact your creditors and try to work out a payment plan. If this doesn't work, consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney. You cannot be put in jail for your debts, although it is possible to be arrested by a constable should you fail to show up for a court appearance in a supplementary process action (part of the judgment enforcement process) and it is possible to be held in contempt of court and jailed.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    See a lawyer immediately. You have a severe legal emergency. Your creditors can sue you. The judgment will be a lien on your home. Additionally they can grab your bank accounts, wages and other assets not just now but for years to come. If you have house equity there may be pros and cons to bankruptcy, so do not guess, don't do anything pro se, and see a lawyer very soon.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Offices of James Wingfield
    Law Offices of James Wingfield | James Wingfield
    Unsecured creditors have a number of tools at their disposal, most of which require that they first get a judgment against you. With a judgment (and execution) in hand, the creditors can bring you into Court to determine how you will pay, they can attach your real estate, seize your car and, of course garnish wages (when you eventually go back to work). If you are struggling with your debts, you should at least speak with a bankruptcy attorney to determine how bankruptcy might be able to protect you.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/23/2011
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis
    Law Offices of Joseph A. Mannis | Todd Mannis
    They can file a lawsuit, get a judgment against you, and then there are various ways to execute on that judgment. Garnishing your wages obviously isn't an option for them, as you're not working, but they can certainly slap a lien against your house, perhaps levy a bank account, etc. In short, they can still make your life miserable. You might well want to consider filing a bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/23/2011
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