Should Judgment Creditors Attempt to Collect on Their Own?


We live in a DIY culture. We have television shows explaining all sorts of DIY tips for home improvement. Property owners can buy and install DIY home security systems. There are even DIY legal websites that allow people to do everything from drafting a will to writing a lease – without the help of an attorney. But when it comes to collecting on judgments, is the DIY route the best choice?

Plenty of judgment creditors attempt to collect on their own. Unfortunately, upwards of 80% of all judgments go forever unpaid. That says something important. It says that, while it is legally permissible for judgment creditors to handle collection in-house, it is not necessarily advisable.

Legal Papers Aren’t Enough

Judgment Collectors is a debt collection agency in Salt Lake City, UT specializing in legal judgments. They collect judgments in multiple states, including Utah and California. They say the biggest mistake judgment creditors make is assuming that collection involves nothing more than filing legal papers. They eventually learn the hard way that legal papers often are not enough.

It is one thing to visit a DIY legal website to draft the papers necessary to collect. It’s an entirely different matter to convince the debtor that it is in their best interests to comply. The mere fact that the debtor has had a judgment entered against them indicates an unwillingness to cooperate. Another piece of paper probably won’t change things.

Knowing the Options Is Critical

Judgment Collectors also says that success rides on knowing all the options. In fact, knowing the options is critical. Why? Because more often than not, judgment creditors need to utilize multiple options simultaneously. It takes a certain amount of knowledge and skill to do that effectively.

Wage and bank account garnishment are two options in most states. Another option is asset seizure. Judgment creditors can even place liens on a debtor’s personal property. And of course, voluntary payment plans are always on the table when debtors are willing.

How does a judgment creditor utilize all these options to maximum advantage? It varies by case. But if a creditor doesn’t know how to do it, an unpaid judgment may never be settled. On the other hand, the risk of a judgment going unpaid is considerably lower when creditors hire collection agencies. Why? Because the professionals know how to get it done.

Employing a Skip Tracing Strategy

Yet another consideration creditors need to account for is the active effort a debtor makes to avoid paying. Debtors are notorious for not being truthful about employment. They are known to provide fake addresses and telephone numbers. Some even go so far as to leave town.

Finding deadbeats and their assets is the primary function of a strategy known as ‘skip tracing’. Collection agencies, private detectives, and certain kinds of attorneys can utilize skip tracing to locate debtors who do not want to be found. The same goes for their assets. However, skip tracing is something that takes knowledge, experience, and skill. It is not something creditors can figure out overnight.

Not the Best Option

By the letter of the law, judgment creditors can make the attempt to collect outstanding judgments on their own. There is nothing stopping them from spending up to ten years pursuing payment. But practically speaking, this is usually not the best option.

Judgment collection is governed by rules and regulations. There are laws that need to be followed. Likewise, there are certain collection strategies that work better than others. Creditors are not expected to know these things. However, judgment collection agencies are. This is why they are the best choice for successful collection.

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