Judgment Enforcement: What’s in your debtor’s wallet?

Many litigation attorneys are very good at what they do - winning cases and obtaining judgments. But once they obtain a judgment, their clients are not always voluntarily paid what they have been awarded, and the judgment must be enforced. In order to do so, the debtor’s assets must first be located so enforcement proceedings can commence.

As collection attorneys, we are often retained after judgments have already been obtained, since the attorney for the judgment creditor usually does not possess the expertise or the necessary resources to locate debtor’s assets. Since we typically charge contingency fees, ranging from 13.5% - 25% of the amounts actually recovered, there are no fees to be paid unless we collect funds due!

Our skip tracers utilize our “waterfall resources” and custom proprietary software to locate bank accounts and identify employment of debtors, while our collectors try to negotiate settlements during the enforcement process.

Our “waterfall resources” include numerous databases that our skip tracers use to locate bank accounts and places of employment for individual debtors or guarantors. Debtor’s employment can be identified by searching through websites of local, state and federal government and utilizing numerous asset search vendors for privately employed debtors. Once a debtor’s place of employment is identified, we issue a Wage Garnishment to a Marshal or Sheriff.

Our custom proprietary software enables us to compare our debtor’s information with the information contained in the databases of the major banks. Once a “match” is identified, we issue a Restraining Notice to “freeze” it so that the debtor may no longer make withdrawals from that account. This often results in a telephone call from the debtor asking us to release the account and offering to pay most or all of the judgment in exchange for this release. Additionally, we also send “paper restraining notices” to smaller banks.

Finally, although we are only allowed to send “information subpoenas” to those banks which we have reason to believe has information regarding our debtor, when a bank acknowledges that they do, in fact, have an active account, we serve them with an information subpoena to obtain further information about the debtor's place of employment and other assets he or she possess.

While the enforcement of a judgement can easily be done by any lawyer if he or she knows exactly where the debtor's assets are located, the difficult task is to find this information. The investment to be able to do so, both in time and money, however, is quite substantial, which is why collection lawyers are able to to locate assets that other lawyers cannot.