Run a Google search on ‘how to collect a judgment’ and you will get more results than you could read in a day. There is a ton of information on judgment collection out there. Why? Because there is a lot to know about it. There is so much to know that going into it unprepared virtually guarantees failure. As anyone with experience could tell you, a lack of knowledge can kill your efforts to collect a judgment.
Imagine you have gone to civil court in pursuit of a customer who hasn’t paid his bill. As a small business owner, you’ve decided to no longer accept deadbeats not paying up. Great. You’ve won your case. Now you’re thinking, “how hard could it be to collect?”
If you need to ask that question, chances are you know very little about what lies ahead. You don’t know how the system works. You don’t know what the law says about how you can collect. You certainly don’t know the types of avoidance tactics the debtor is likely to take moving forward. So in the end, your chances of success are pretty low.
There Are Procedures to Follow
A judgment being rendered in a civil case marks the end of that part of the litigation. But the case itself continues until the judgment is satisfied. From the very moment the judge’s gavel falls, there are a number of procedures creditors must follow in order to collect. One of the first relates to interrogatories.
Interrogatories are a legal tool that creditors and their attorneys utilize to get information from debtors. Usually, it’s exercised in the form of written questions. But creditors are not allowed to ask just anything. Their questions must be limited to topics directly related to collection efforts. Furthermore, they need to follow certain procedures for submitting questions.
There are procedures that must be followed in order to:
- garnish wages and bank accounts
- place liens on debtor property
- seize and sell non-exempt property.
All the procedures are governed by state law. If you don’t know the law, it’s likely you also don’t know the procedures. Not only does that make collection harder, but you could also actually jeopardize your case by doing something in violation of the law. Not good.
Debtors Try Every Tactic
Above and beyond legal procedures, creditors have something else working against them: debtors willing to try every tactic to avoid paying. Judgment Collectors, an agency specializing in judgment collections in several US states, says that some debtors even get advice from their attorneys on how to avoid paying.
Some of the more common avoidance tactics include:
- slow walking one’s response to interrogatories
- providing false or incomplete information
- quitting a job to avoid wage garnishment
- draining a bank account so that it can’t be garnished
- transferring ownership of assets to other parties.
Believe it or not, some debtors will even go to the extent of moving out of state and not providing a forwarding address. The thing is that experienced collection agencies have seen it all. They know how to get around avoidance tactics with appropriate countermeasures of their own. Creditors, not so much.
Creditors tend to lack the knowledge, experience, and tools to go after debtors full force. Lacking tools and resources wouldn’t be so bad if creditors knew everything there was to know about collection. But they don’t. And without sufficient knowledge, all their efforts to collect could be for nothing. That lack of knowledge can kill every effort to get paid. What is the solution? Hire an experienced collection agency.