Unsecured debt that has not been paid by a debtor will often go to court in an effort by the creditor to win a judgment. When a creditor wins a judgment against a debtor, that “unsecured debt” becomes “secured debt” and the creditor now has the right to take aggressive collection action against the debtor.

With a judgment a creditor can garnish bank accounts, wages and place a lien on real estate or other property owned by the debtor making it impossible for the debtor to sell the property without paying the debt first. When a debtor files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy , the creditor with a judgment will file a secured claim with the bankruptcy court. Most times, in a chapter 13 bankruptcy, secured claims are paid first and in full, before any unsecured creditors.

If a creditor has won a judgment against you in court and/or has placed a lien against your wages, bank account or property, speak with a bankruptcy attorney immediately. The bankruptcy attorney may be able to file a motion to have the lien removed, especially if it is encumbering your ability to pay for basic expenses such as food, shelter and utilities.