Money Judgments: Why Paying Up Is Better Than Blowing It Off

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Money judgments are nothing to fool around with. Despite the fact that the vast majority of such judgments are never fully collected, judgment creditors have a litany of very persuasive tools at their disposal. If they ever learn how to use those tools, they can be remarkably effective debt collectors. The reason for my unwavering belief is that it is always more prudent to honor a judgment rather than avoiding the responsibility of payment.

More Than Just a Debt

It is easy to assume that a judgment is just another kind of debt. You lost a civil lawsuit and now you owe the other party, known as the judgment creditor, a certain amount of money plus legal fees and interest. It is easy for you to think it’s just another bill you can’t pay. But it’s more – a lot more.

A judgment is actually a court decision. It is the civil litigation equivalent of a conviction in a criminal case. Someone winning a judgment against you has established a legally recognized debt that the law compels you to pay. The judgment also treats that debt as property that can be held, sold, or transferred.

The fact that monetary judgments are property spells big trouble for judgment debtors. If their creditors understand the law, they also understand how to utilize a variety of collection tools including:

  • Wage and bank account garnishment.
  • Property liens against real and personal property.
  • Driver’s license suspension.
  • Property seizure and sale.

I am guessing the majority of money judgments never get collected because judgment creditors are either unaware of these tools or don’t know how to use them. But there are experts who do. At the top of the list is the collection agency that specializes in judgments.

Finding You and Your Assets

Judgment Collectors is one such agency. They are based in Salt Lake City and offer services in eleven states. If nothing else, they know how to find people. Specialized collection agencies like Judgment Collectors know how to find judgment debtors and assets they are trying to hide.

Such agencies will not give away their secrets, nor should they. However, it is common knowledge that they begin a search for people and assets through publicly available resources. They scour public property records. They look at police reports, arrest records, and credit reports. They also take advantage of the treasure trove known as social media.

Judgment Collectors once dug around until they found an airplane hangar owned by a judgment debtor who claimed he didn’t have the resources to pay. He wasn’t prepared for the agency to find his property, domesticate the original judgment against him, and then use the property as leverage to get him to pay. He paid up rather than facing the possibility of losing the hangar.

A Kind of Private Detective

You can say that a specialist judgment collector is a kind of private detective. Judgment collectors rely on many of the same techniques, including something known as skip tracing. Skip tracing is a discipline that utilizes both public and paid resources to find people trying really hard to stay lost.

Put all of this together and you should understand why paying an outstanding judgment is better than blowing it off. A judgment creditor might not make every effort to collect from you. But if that creditor turns your case over to a specialized collection agency, your chances of perpetually avoiding payment go way down.

If it were me, I would rather not face a collection agency determined to extract payment from me. I would rather pay up, even if that means agreeing to a payment plan over several years.