Money in the Judgment Collection Game

Time Is Indeed Money in the Judgment Collection Game

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As someone who spends a lot of time researching and writing about judgment collection, I wonder how many people realize that the vast majority of monetary judgment rendered in U.S. courts are never fully enforced. I wonder how many small businesses know that before they sue deadbeat customers.

Time is money in the judgment collection gain. The longer it takes to get paid, the less likely a judgment creditor will get paid at all. The longer a creditor insists on attempting to collect in-house, the more time a debtor needs to employ strategies to avoid paying. It is really a cat-and-mouse game right from the very beginning.

How does a judgment creditor increase his chances of winning that game? By bringing in a collection agency from day one. Judgment Collectors, a Salt Lake City agency that focuses solely on judgments, says that getting them involved right from the start changes everything.

Unwilling to Pay All Along

Taking a deadbeat customer to court because they have not paid an outstanding bill is pretty extreme. Most small business owners I know will try every other option before heading to court. So why is it that so many business owners believe that a civil lawsuit will suddenly compel cooperation among deadbeats who have been unwilling to pay all along? Such assumptions truly puzzle me.

I am not at all surprised by debtors who purposely employ delay tactics after having judgments entered against them. They continually delay in hopes that creditors will eventually give up and stop trying to collect. Some of them are even smart enough to know the judgments have statutes of limitation attached to them. Their end game is to wait it out until the statute of limitation expires.

Debtors Hide Assets

Whether advised by an attorney or they know enough to do it on their own, deters hoping to avoid paying will often do it if they can hide valuable assets. A pretty common strategy is to transfer a valuable asset to a friend or family member in anticipation of losing a civil lawsuit. Needless to say there are other ways to hide assets.

On the other hand, it is in a judgment creditors best interest to start searching for assets from day one. The sooner an asset search begins, the more likely assets will be discovered before a debtor has a chance to hide them for good.

Organizations like Judgment Collectors scour local property records in search of real estate transactions. They have access to proprietary databases that can help them discover everything from vacation homes to unreported collectibles. Getting them involved early on gives them the upper hand.

Don’t Give Debtors Time

What so many judgment creditors do not realize is that a failure to immediately begin enforcement efforts gives judgment debtors time. They use that time to employ a variety of avoidance tactics. In addition to hiding assets, judgment debtors might:

  • Slow walk their answers to interrogatories.
  • Provide incomplete or inaccurate employment information.
  • Move without furnishing a forwarding address.

Some judgment debtors go to the extreme of moving out-of-state entirely. It is a smart move when a judgment creditor attempts to collect in-house. It is not so smart when an agency like Judgment Collectors gets involved.

Judgments are not like fine wine. They do not age well. Judgment creditors have the advantage when they collect quickly. Debtors have the advantage when they are able to delay payment indefinitely. In this tug of war, the one who wins the time battle usually ends up prevailing. So yes, time is money in the judgment collection game.

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