It isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. It most certainly isn’t a guarantee of getting paid. In many cases, however, it is the only option. You need to balance the possibility of getting paid against all the time, work and frustration involved.
If somebody owes you money and refuses to pay the first step is to find out if they have any assets. This includes real estate, personal property or employment. If no assets are found do not expect to be compensated for your effort. There are exceptions to this rule which I will mention later. If you confirm property ownership or a job, a law suit should work in getting you paid.
You can file directly with Small Claims Court for debts up to $3,000 in New Jersey. Check with the courts in other states for their maximum figures. You have to go to the county court house and fill out documents, copy them so you have 3 copies and return them to the clerk with a small fee.
You will be given a court date through the mail. If you don’t attend, the suit is dropped. If the person who owes you money does not attend, you get a default Judgment.
If everybody shows up, you go to an arbitration session where you and the defendant might work things out. If not, you wait for the trial.
If you win you get a judgment which is a piece of paper stating you win. You now have the right to go after the defendant's assets.
If you know where the defendant works, you need to fill out the proper form for Wage Garnishment. The Sheriff will collect a portion of income each paycheck.
If you know the defendant owns a house, you can fill out a different form to obtain a Docketed Judgment. This puts a lien on any real estate the defendant may own. It may take some time but you will usually get paid.
If you have the defendant’s Social Security number, the Sheriff can levy a bank account. Sometimes you get everything you are owed. Sometimes there isn’t enough money in the account. Generally, this only works once because the defendant is always notified and stops using the account.
If the debt exceeds $3,000 you can enter a law suit in Special Civil Court. There are more forms here and there are a lot more rules. If you choose this path you will need an attorney. If you are owed more than $3,000 you can reduce the bill to $3000 and go back to Small Claims.
The process takes a lot of time and you need to fill out a lot of forms. If you use a professional debt collector, you have them do the work and, in many cases, get more money. Once a debt collector has a Judgment, they can continually search for assets during the entire time the Judgment remains valid. In most cases assets are searched every few months.
The process used is a high speed batch scan looking for assets of ALL active Judgments. This goes on for years.
A Judgment is only the start of a process to recover money. It is a permission slip to go after assets. If you don’t know where the assets are you should use a company that searches assets. In addition to handling every piece of paper required for asset recovery, a debt collection agency has the tools to find any available assets.
If you do the litigation in house, you will spend a great deal of time and some money completing the process, even if the Judgment proves worthless. A debt collection agency does all the work and still only charges when money is collected.
Save your time and money. Use the professional.
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ABOUT EXECUTIVE CREDIT MANAGEMENT, INC.
Executive Credit Management is a full-service Debt Collection and Applicant Screening agency with over 20 years experience located in Central New Jersey. We provide excellent service in the following areas: Employment Screening, Business Screening, and Tenant Screening. Executive Credit Management belongs to a number of Skip Tracing databases and offers services to help locate and confirm the current address of missing debtors. Other services provided are: litigation evaluation on all lawsuit decisions, improvement of the quality of the applicant data, Lawsuit Monitoring, Handling of Debtor Disputes. Executive Credit Management features the best Call Monitoring System in the Debt Collection industry.