Can A Credit Card Company Take My House Or My Car?

by Susanne Robicsek, North Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney

February 19, 2009

Credit card companies, or any creditor for that matter, can sue a debtor and may be able to take the debtor’s home, real estate, car, boat or any other personal property they own. People seem to think that if they don’t sign something that gives a creditor a lien on collateral, the creditor can’t take it. That is not true.

Further fueling this misconception is the advise of so-called money experts like Suze Orman, who I have personally heard give false information that creditors can’t take a person’s home.  Creditors can sue a person and take their home, car and other property – and they do!

First, the creditors will have to sue and obtain a judgment against the debtor, then follow the steps necessary to reach the property. The ability of creditors to get to someone’s property will depend on state law, and each state is different.

While some states may protect a home in total from creditors, other states such, as mine, limit the amount of equity that can be shielded from creditors.  North Carolina exemption law only protects up to $35,000.00 per person in home equity for the NC homestead exemption, and the other exemptions are limited to modest amounts as well.

However borrowers need to know that if they borrow money they can’t repay, their creditors may be able to take things that the borrower never intended to use as collateral for the loan. Many people are able to find help in bankruptcy. Some can protect their property in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, or find a solution in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

To find out how you are affected, you should seek legal advice from an attorney in your area.

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Concentrating in Consumer Bankruptcy Law since 1988; Wake Forest Law School JD 1987 Law Office of Susanne M. Robicsek since 1993, Law Clerk to Judge Rufus Reynolds, US Bankruptcy Judge for Middle District of NC; Burns Price & Arneke, PA, David Badger and Associates, PA.

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Last modified: June 13, 2011