Locate debtor to collect judgment? Let’s face it, if you own
a money judgment that you won in a law suit, you want to locate the
After all, you may need to know where to serve legal
documents related to enforcement of your judgment. Also, it is likely
that wherever your debtor lives, is where you are going to find
assets that can be turned into payment towards your money judgment.
You likely knew the correct address of your debtor
at the time you filed your original complaint in your law suit.
You would have needed an address in order for the court summons
to be served on your adversary.
If your judgment is fairly new, there is a good
chance that the judgment debtor is still at the same address, maybe
not. The longer it has been since you filed your complaint against
him, the greater the chance that he has moved to a different address.
Perhaps the debtor is being very clever at eluding
you. In spite of this, most of the time it is possible to discover
the exact location of your debtor’s residence.
I believe the easiest place to start a search to
discover the location of a judgment debtor is by pursuing what factual
information you already possess. What do you already know about
the debtor that you can investigate further with the idea of gaining
further knowledge that you don’t have. For example, you may
already know of a house that he lived in at one time. You may know
how and where to contact people who should know the debtor and know
things about him.
If you know the debtor’s past address, it
would make sense to go by that neighborhood and talk to former neighbors
of the debtor. If you don’t come across suspiciously, many
people will tell you everything they know about someone. This is
especially true if you don’t look like a bill collector or
private investigator. It is not too difficult to come up with a
simple pretext to use for why you are interested in finding your
skip. A skip is the person whose whereabouts you are trying to discover.
Be sure to avoid telling your potential informants that you are
attempting to enforce your judgment. This method of post judgment
investigation is frequently successful and generally quite easy
What if you know how to contact people that know
the skip and know things about him. Naturally this could include
member of the debtor’s family. You might want to use a pretext
with close family members. You don’t want to arouse any suspicions
on their part about whether or not they should talk to a stranger
about their family member. Once again, be careful about disclosing
that you are attempting to collect a court judgment.
I find that family members will sometimes disclose
a whole lot of information about the judgment debtor. Sometimes
they will do it even when they have a clear understanding that you
are seeking to collect a judgment debt.
My personal favorite source of information about
a debtor is any ex-spouse or former boy friend/girl friend of the
debtor. There is a good reason why they are exes. Exes are usually
a veritable artesian well, flowing freely with reliable information
about your common adversary. They are understandably upset with
their ex and willingly share knowledge that helps further the judgment
enforcement process. You may want to read a previous post about
what a great help exes can be to your collection efforts. Here is
the link: http://www.enforcementinstitute.com/?p=308
If you know of friends or co-workers of the debtor,
contact them and see if you can find a sympathetic ear. Often you
will hit pay dirt on one of these people.
If your judgment debtor is a real scum bag, it is
reasonable to think that there are other people out there who have
been done wrong by this jerk. Think about how to identify who these
people might be. They might be your treasure chest of information
that you need in order to locate your skip.
I have discovered that many judgment debtors have
been sued more than once. If you think about it, this should be
no big surprise. Whenever a jerk has lost multiple law suits, you
can figure he has a few enemies around. If you go to the court house
and check the court records, don’t be shocked to find more
judgments against your debtor besides your own. If you contact the
other judgment creditors you will likely find people with knowledge
about your common adversary, and are more than anxious to share
information. Just be careful that you don’t divulge information
that could lead to one of the other judgment debtors putting their
wage garnishment or other enforcement action in place before you
can get yours in place.
There are many many more ways to discover a judgment
debtor’s residence. Without going into other ways to gain
this knowledge, for now, think about these various categories of
people that can help you. When you contact a possible source of
info on your skip, handle the conversation wisely. If you do, your
source may tell you much more than merely the current address of
Listen carefully. Be especially sensitive to detect
whether any area where the potential informant has negative feelings
about your debtor. If you can get your source to tell you about
these negative feelings, you stand a good chance of gaining a cooperative
informant. Listen well, and ask gently probing questions.