Collection methods differ from secured debt to unsecured debt. A secured debt creditor can seize the asset that is collateral for securing the debt. An unsecured creditor does not have that option unless they take a debtor to court, which involves a debt collection lawsuit. Before the case can go to court, the creditor must have their summons and complaint served on the creditor to notify them of the court date.

In the event the creditor does get a favorable judgment or a default judgment if the debtor fails to show up at the hearing, then the creditor has additional options. The creditor could levy the debtor’s bank accounts, garnish their paychecks or place a lien on any real estate owned by the debtor.

Once the lien has been attached to the debtor’s property, the creditor could file a writ of execution, seize the property and sell it. A creditor may not necessarily do so, however, and liens that were filed previously will have priority, possibly making the property seizure too big a risk.

The property owner cannot sell the property without paying off the debts to release the liens. The length of any lien’s validity varies from state-to-state. However, when a lien reaches the end of that specified term, the creditor could renew the lien.

When consumers finds themselves facing a court date over a debt owed, they could be confused and unsure of how to proceed. Protecting their property and avoiding judgments is of significant importance, and a bankruptcy attorney could help them with the process of navigating the process of dealing with creditors both in and out of court.

Source: SF Gate, “Can Unsecured Creditors Collect Their Debt from the Sale of My Home?“, Ciele Edwards, December 12, 2014