Search for Unknown Bank, Saving, Brokerage & Offshore Accounts
Due Diligence, Skip Trace, Interviews, Litigation Support, Statements
Surveillance of an Individual, Business or Workers’ Comp
Insurance Carriers, TPA’s, Law Firms, Employers & Municipalities
JUDGMENT ENFORCEMENT AND COLLECTIONS
Stryker PI can provide our clients with an effective means of judgment enforcement and collection. If the judgment debtor; either, refuses to follow the court order, or cannot afford to pay the amount of the judgment. The judgment creditor may be required to take additional steps and incur further expenses to collect the judgment. Depending on the laws in your state the judgment creditor may be able to force the judgment debtor to pay for the collection fees and the judgment.
Winning the lawsuit is sometimes only half the battle. A determined judgment debtor can evade judgment enforcement and collections for years. In fact, a judgment will be valid for 10 years and can be valid even longer if it is renewed.
The first step in the collection process is simply to ask the debtor to pay. A letter demanding payment should be sent ten days after judgment has been entered in favor of the judgment creditor.
- Ask the judgment debtor for payment and work with the debtor, if requested, to ascertain the viability of a payment plan or compromise on the basis of collectibility;
- If payment is not made or arranged for, attempt to locate the judgment debtor’s assets and sources of income;
If the above steps are insufficient to satisfy the judgment and it is apparent that further collection is necessary… Seek professional assistance to enforced collections and ensure payment… we aggressively employ our judgment enforcement methods, using every legal means available to attach/seize/garnish those assets to enforce your judgment collection.
We are a licensed investigation agency that provides judgment collection services to judgment creditors, Law Firm, their Attorneys and Business to Business Services. We operate in full compliance with debt collection laws, and have made substantial investments in technology to provide our clients with the best-in-class access to relevant debtor information, IRS, Federal Trade Commission, US Department of Labor Garnishment laws.
Before you sue, ask yourself whether the person has any income or assets that could be used to pay your claim. If the person does have income or assets, or is likely to have some in the foreseeable future, it is more likely that you will be able to collect your money, but not without some effort. Pre-Litigation asset searches are a preemptive tactic used to determine what assets or income may be seized in the event a judgment is ordered. Subsequent, information can be used to determine if the judicial venture is economically worth the effort. Evidence obtained during this process can be admissible in court and used at trial to prepare a better case.
WRIT OF ATTACHMENT/EXECUTION
A writ of attachment or writ of execution is a tool used to take debtor property, sell it and apply the sales proceeds to your judgment. Steps in the process are:
- Ask the court for the writ, which tells the sheriff to pick up the debtor’s property and sell it
- Serve or deliver the writ to the debtor. You may have to use a process server and post a bond to protect the sheriff’s office from being sued if any mistakes are made, such as taking someone else’s property
- Pay costs such as storage while the sale is advertised
- Collect payment after the sheriff completes the sale (costs are taken out of sales proceeds before you’re paid)
Depending on the state, the process can be complex, so you may want to use a private investigator that is a expert or an attorney, especially if real estate is involved. Certain property – such as the debtor’s home, a vehicle used for work transportation, welfare benefits and Social Security payments – can’t be seized and sold.
SISTER-STATE AND FOREIGN JUDGMENTS
Enforcing judgments often requires additional resources and efforts when the assets lie outside the jurisdiction of origin. As a judgment collection investigation agency, we offer our services to judgment creditors and their counsel to domesticate Sister-State and Foreign Judgments, to the state where the assets are located.
In most states, garnishments can be used to recover debts of any type, including credit card and other commercial debts. However, in four states – Texas, Pennsylvania, and North and South Carolina – wages can only be garnished for debts from delinquent taxes, child support, (federally-guaranteed) student loans, and fines that were ordered by the court. In addition, Florida wage garnishment laws provide a “head-of-household exemption” that prohibits the wage garnishment of someone who supplies at least 50% of the support for a child or other dependent.
When a bank receives a notice of a levy, they must immediately freeze the debtor’s account. In addition to being unable to make a withdrawal, the bank account is frozen, any outstanding checks or automatic debit card payments won’t clear (unless there are enough exempt funds in the account). A federal law that went into effect in May of 2011 requires that banks receiving a garnishment order for an account-holder who receives federal benefits, review their deposits for the last two months to determine if any of these funds were deposited, and are thus exempt. By Federal Law, a bank must wait 21 calendar days after a levy is served before sending payment. The Sheriff holds the funds for 20 more days and then releases on the next business day. Of course under ideal circumstances the depositor(s) can waive this waiting period.
Jointly Owned Accounts – Rights and Limitations
When the debtor owns an account jointly with another individual that is not a spouse, the law usually presumes that both individuals each have equal rights to funds held in that account. So, when a creditor attempts to garnish that account, it typically doesn’t have to investigate whether you contributed more money to the account than the co-owner. Unfortunately, for the non-debtor this could mean that the money in their account could be garnished to pay for the co-owner’s debt, a debt that the non-debtor never owed. Laws vary on the extent to which creditors can garnish joint accounts. In some states, creditors can’t take more than half of the funds in a joint account. However, in other states — like Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia — creditors may be able to garnish the entire joint account. California law (CCP § 700.160(b)) allows a judgment creditor to collect money from the bank account in the name of the debtor’s spouse even when the debtor’s name is not on the account.
The New Jersey Multiple Party Deposit Account Act (“NJMPDAA”), N.J.S.A. § 17:16I-1, et seq., which governs “multiple party deposit accounts” (“MPDAs”), including joint bank accounts, provides in relevant part: Unless a contrary intent is manifested by the terms of the contract, or the deposit agreement, or there is other clear and convincing evidence of a different intent at the time the account is created: a. A joint account belongs, during the lifetime of all parties, to the parties in proportion to the net contributions by each to the sums on deposit. In the absence of proof of net contributions, the account belongs in equal shares to all parties having present right of withdrawal.