Tips For Collecting Judgments – Hint: It Starts When You Form The Customer Relationship, Not When It Breaks Down

If you obtain a judgment against a client or customer, what’s next? Well you might consider trying to locate and levy on a bank account or try to garnish salary. A smart practice for a businessperson is to start thinking about this at the beginning of the customer relationship when things are good, not at the end when things may have fallen apart.

Every business should keep a copy of a customer’s social security number and driver’s license.

Another practice that should be standard is to make a copy of all checks used to pay for services or products. That way, if the business obtains a judgment years later for unpaid services or products, the first place they can look to skip trace a judgment debtor or to obtain assets is in their own files. Very often the bank account that was used years before will still be in active use by the customer and will still have funds in it. An information subpoena and restraining notice can be sent to the bank to find out. Be careful and make sure you include a copy of your notice to judgment debtor and two exemption claim forms as well, items that must also be mailed to the judgment debtor in case the account contains exempt assets like social security funds. If you hit an account, a property execution can be sent to the sheriff to levy on the funds. Success with this begins when you meet the customer. Very often a debtor will ignore demands for payment. This can happen for months or even years. The savvy business owner will protect himself by gathering up as much information as possible as early as possible.

It is also a good practice to get employment information from a client or customer when the relationship is formed. It may later assist with a garnishment (income execution) to collect a judgment. And, if a customer is unwilling to provide this basic information, I’d suggest telling them thanks but no thanks and find another customer.

So what is the martial arts application here? Simply this – size up every situation before you need to actually defend yourself. A martial artist is taught to notice things and avoid danger. There is a humorous saying that once you know how to defend yourself, you never need to. It is like Murphy’s Law in reverse, sort of. So size up that customer or client and take notice of these details before you ever need them and hopefully you never will.


If you have any legal questions or need help with collecting a judgment, please contact Attorney Scott Lanin at (212) 764-7250 x 201 or use the contact form in the right sidebar.

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