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I am trying to collect from the judgment debtor for my small claims case. We have a payment review hearing in October, and the person has not paid yet even though the payment deadline has passed. Contacted him once to let him know how to pay me, he blocked my number after replying with offensive language. Since I live in a different state, it takes me 4 hours of driving to visit the district court. Should I assign the judgment to a collection company or sell the judgement, or should I make another trip to attend the payment hearing? The judgment amount is around $500+, admittedly not a huge amount. Are there other ways to collect the judgment?

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Just to show how every state is different, that isn't at all how it works in NJ.

BrianGa (Aug. 08, 2016 @ 6:37p) |

FDCPA applies only to debt collectors, but still not bad advice in general.

BrianGa (Aug. 08, 2016 @ 6:38p) |

Has the debtor shown up at any of the prior hearings?  Do you have an easy way to find his address, or his employer?  I ... (more)

Morty (Aug. 08, 2016 @ 8:26p) |

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What states? What is the smaill claim case? Is the debtor a person or a small business?

Massachusetts. The debtor is an individual. He was involved in consumer fraud.. 

Go to the court to file to garnish wages. I had a situation where the guy said he would be cooperative and then refused so I took him to court and won handily. I contacted him for payment and he refused... so I filed to have his wages garnished and he came and paid in full before it could reach his employer.

Dus10 said:   Go to the court to file to garnish wages. I had a situation where the guy said he would be cooperative and then refused so I took him to court and won handily. I contacted him for payment and he refused... so I filed to have his wages garnished and he came and paid in full before it could reach his employer.
  The Clerk's Office of the district court told me the other day, they don't do wage garnishment for small claims. But they have something similar, where I can confiscate his properties, and sell them to pay for my judgment. I am unsure if he has any property under his name since he still lives with his parent. I agree that wage garnishment is the best way to go if he has a job. How did you find out if the person's employer back then?  

If he's got a bank account with $500 in it, and you can guess the bank, you should be good to go.

I don't know MA procedure specifically, but these may help:

http://research.lawyers.com/massachusetts/ma-collecting-the-judg...

http://taylorlawoffice.us/2010/01/collecting-massachusetts-suppl...

Also, find out whether you can do any of this by mail, or with a telephone appearance. 4 hours each way is a lot of driving for a $500 judgment...

BrianGa said:   .....
Also, find out whether you can do any of this by mail, or with a telephone appearance. 4 hours each way is a lot of driving for a $500 judgment...


Yeah, 2nd this. Realize that everytime you drive to this district court and back it's essentially costing you about $100, not including your time. I'd take one more trip, if you're really bored, but if you can't find some proxy solution then you should probably just forget it. I really hate to see douchebags get away with fraud a decent peolle get burned but that's kinda how the system works too.

eb5review said:   
Dus10 said:   Go to the court to file to garnish wages. I had a situation where the guy said he would be cooperative and then refused so I took him to court and won handily. I contacted him for payment and he refused... so I filed to have his wages garnished and he came and paid in full before it could reach his employer.
  The Clerk's Office of the district court told me the other day, they don't do wage garnishment for small claims. But they have something similar, where I can confiscate his properties, and sell them to pay for my judgment. I am unsure if he has any property under his name since he still lives with his parent. I agree that wage garnishment is the best way to go if he has a job. How did you find out if the person's employer back then?  

  I didn't need to know his employer.  The court handled that... though the guy did tell me, because he thought it made him special (read: untouchable)... he worked in the IT department at one of the schools at one of the state universities.

To find property... you can see if he owns real estate in a county... all of that is generally searchable by last name anymore.  Perhaps just filing to put a lien or confiscate property will be enough to get him to pay, so you don't have to necessarily worry about disposition yet.

eb5review said:   
Dus10 said:   Go to the court to file to garnish wages. I had a situation where the guy said he would be cooperative and then refused so I took him to court and won handily. I contacted him for payment and he refused... so I filed to have his wages garnished and he came and paid in full before it could reach his employer.
  The Clerk's Office of the district court told me the other day, they don't do wage garnishment for small claims. But they have something similar, where I can confiscate his properties, and sell them to pay for my judgment. I am unsure if he has any property under his name since he still lives with his parent. I agree that wage garnishment is the best way to go if he has a job. How did you find out if the person's employer back then?  

Has he filled out a financial statement of judgement debtor at the payment hearing? If he  has and he has income or assets listed there the next step is a writ of execution. Then you turn it over to a sheriff and they seize property to pay the debt.

You could have someone mail him a check for a few dollars and see which bank cashed it then levy bank

You should just write it off. The judgement will temporarily hurt his fica score, but it will eventually recover. If he tries to buy a house, he may need to pay it to clear, but more than likely you will never see the money.

The process of collecting his property costs money too. Its lots of paperwork. You usually have to pay to have him served, sometime have to put a bond forward, etc. He also can claim exemptions on his property. The process work for the government and perhaps those with high judgments, but IMHO, I think you are wasting your time on someone who has already blocked your number for a mere $500.

You would have more options if you had fraud charges brought against him. Normally a Judge would drop the charges if the person pays restitution.

Dus10 said:   Go to the court to file to garnish wages. I had a situation where the guy said he would be cooperative and then refused so I took him to court and won handily. I contacted him for payment and he refused... so I filed to have his wages garnished and he came and paid in full before it could reach his employer.
  Ive had luck calling employer saying im wanting to garnish the wages of .... word got around and I was contacted for payment.

Can you get a debtors examination? A contempt of court warrant after he no-shows might be more effective

I agree with the others. I'd only pursue this if the victory is worth the hassle.

eb5review said:   
Dus10 said:   Go to the court to file to garnish wages. I had a situation where the guy said he would be cooperative and then refused so I took him to court and won handily. I contacted him for payment and he refused... so I filed to have his wages garnished and he came and paid in full before it could reach his employer.
  The Clerk's Office of the district court told me the other day, they don't do wage garnishment for small claims. But they have something similar, where I can confiscate his properties, and sell them to pay for my judgment. I am unsure if he has any property under his name since he still lives with his parent. I agree that wage garnishment is the best way to go if he has a job. How did you find out if the person's employer back then?  

  My brother served someone a few years back in your same situation.  Was going to sell his playstation and other toys to pay his judgement.  Mommy and Daddy stepped in and paid as soon as they got the notice.

BrianGa said:   I don't know MA procedure specifically, but these may help:

http://research.lawyers.com/massachusetts/ma-collecting-the-judg... 

http://taylorlawoffice.us/2010/01/collecting-massachusetts-suppl... 

Also, find out whether you can do any of this by mail, or with a telephone appearance. 4 hours each way is a lot of driving for a $500 judgment...

  Thanks BrianCa for the links. I am looking into them. Yeah 8 hours round trip is something that makes me hesitate about going against him further. It will be a different story if it's a 500K case...

gnopgnip said:   
eb5review said:   
Dus10 said:   Go to the court to file to garnish wages. I had a situation where the guy said he would be cooperative and then refused so I took him to court and won handily. I contacted him for payment and he refused... so I filed to have his wages garnished and he came and paid in full before it could reach his employer.
  The Clerk's Office of the district court told me the other day, they don't do wage garnishment for small claims. But they have something similar, where I can confiscate his properties, and sell them to pay for my judgment. I am unsure if he has any property under his name since he still lives with his parent. I agree that wage garnishment is the best way to go if he has a job. How did you find out if the person's employer back then?  

Has he filled out a financial statement of judgement debtor at the payment hearing? If he  has and he has income or assets listed there the next step is a writ of execution. Then you turn it over to a sheriff and they seize property to pay the debt.

  He is supposed to do that before the payment hearing, and give me a copy. Nothing from him yet. I doubt he would do it until at the payment hearing since he didn't even bother to file an appeal when the judgement came out.  His financial statement can come in Handy for me to file a writ of execution. My only concern is what if he has no money.. He has (or maybe had) a sports car. The strange thing is when I looked up his license plate on autocheck.com, the plate is unfoundable..(I am doing this because I wanted to find out if he owns or leases the car since it's the only property I know he might own, and I need to locate the property when I file the writ of execution..) I tried my own plate to test the website, it returned with accurate information of the cars I have ever owned with my plate number..

drew2money said:   You should just write it off. The judgement will temporarily hurt his fica score, but it will eventually recover. If he tries to buy a house, he may need to pay it to clear, but more than likely you will never see the money.

The process of collecting his property costs money too. Its lots of paperwork. You usually have to pay to have him served, sometime have to put a bond forward, etc. He also can claim exemptions on his property. The process work for the government and perhaps those with high judgments, but IMHO, I think you are wasting your time on someone who has already blocked your number for a mere $500.

You would have more options if you had fraud charges brought against him. Normally a Judge would drop the charges if the person pays restitution.

  Yeah, a part of me knows I will just have to swallow it and take it as a lesson learnt.. $500 is just too small an amount in the money collection world to worth the hassle. My thinking is if I decided to throw away the money, might as well offer it to some collection agencies for free. At least, it's over for me, but not over for him..

lotusgardener said:   
eb5review said:   
Dus10 said:   Go to the court to file to garnish wages. I had a situation where the guy said he would be cooperative and then refused so I took him to court and won handily. I contacted him for payment and he refused... so I filed to have his wages garnished and he came and paid in full before it could reach his employer.
  The Clerk's Office of the district court told me the other day, they don't do wage garnishment for small claims. But they have something similar, where I can confiscate his properties, and sell them to pay for my judgment. I am unsure if he has any property under his name since he still lives with his parent. I agree that wage garnishment is the best way to go if he has a job. How did you find out if the person's employer back then?  

  My brother served someone a few years back in your same situation.  Was going to sell his playstation and other toys to pay his judgement.  Mommy and Daddy stepped in and paid as soon as they got the notice.

  That's great! What steps did your brother go through to get to sell the debtor's properties? Did he file the writ of execution the same day after the payment hearing?

eb5review said:   
drew2money said:   You should just write it off. The judgement will temporarily hurt his fica score, but it will eventually recover. If he tries to buy a house, he may need to pay it to clear, but more than likely you will never see the money.

The process of collecting his property costs money too. Its lots of paperwork. You usually have to pay to have him served, sometime have to put a bond forward, etc. He also can claim exemptions on his property. The process work for the government and perhaps those with high judgments, but IMHO, I think you are wasting your time on someone who has already blocked your number for a mere $500.

You would have more options if you had fraud charges brought against him. Normally a Judge would drop the charges if the person pays restitution.

  Yeah, a part of me knows I will just have to swallow it and take it as a lesson learnt.. $500 is just too small an amount in the money collection world to worth the hassle. My thinking is if I decided to throw away the money, might as well offer it to some collection agencies for free. At least, it's over for me, but not over for him..

  If you are just going to walk away, you should be able to sell the debt to someone and get something out of it. 

eb5review said:    Contacted him once to let him know how to pay me, he blocked my number after replying with offensive language.
Please tell us you didn't actually text him...
  

He lives with his parents, so send a letter with the envelope bearing a notation like "A court judgement has been made against Bob". Use Word to make it printed on there with his address, and send it to him. His parents will see the notation and pay it.

EradicateSpam said:   He lives with his parents, so send a letter with the envelope bearing a notation like "A court judgement has been made against Bob". Use Word to make it printed on there with his address, and send it to him. His parents will see the notation and pay it.
  Or, just say that you're a Nigerian prince and he can get $1MM just by paying $500.

do not send anything that talks about debt anywhere on the outside of the envelope.
Do not call his work telling other ppl ur looking to garnish wages.
 Both of these can be considered violations of the fdcpa ?? 
Im not code name 47 nor stay at a holiday in kast night. So take it for what its worth.

I cannot address that state, but I do know from experience in another state if you fail to show, the judge is likely to squash your existing judgment canceling the claim. Equally if you show and the defendant does not, your claim may be upheld. Be sure to bring all your original evidence just in case.

I second trying to learn where the defendant banks or works after you have court papers in hand.

JW10 said:   I cannot address that state, but I do know from experience in another state if you fail to show, the judge is likely to squash your existing judgment canceling the claim. Equally if you show and the defendant does not, your claim may be upheld. Be sure to bring all your original evidence just in case.

I second trying to learn where the defendant banks or works after you have court papers in hand.

 Just to show how every state is different, that isn't at all how it works in NJ.

owenscott said:   do not send anything that talks about debt anywhere on the outside of the envelope.
Do not call his work telling other ppl ur looking to garnish wages.
 Both of these can be considered violations of the fdcpa ?? 
Im not code name 47 nor stay at a holiday in kast night. So take it for what its worth.

  FDCPA applies only to debt collectors, but still not bad advice in general. 

Has the debtor shown up at any of the prior hearings?  Do you have an easy way to find his address, or his employer?  I had a small claims action when I lived in MA where the debtor never showed up to anything, and I had to show up in court 4 different times (original hearing, some sort of mandatory appeal if the debtor did not show, the payment review hearing and a followup of some sort)  8 hours round-trip would have killed it for me.  I just kept showing up late to work.  This is over the course of a few months.  I thought about bailing but mine was a few thousand $$ and I lived close by (and I'm stubborn). I'm just worried you'll drive 8 hours round-trip, the guy will no-show, you'll "win", but no great way to collect.  I actually found the court clerk's advice to be surprisingly wrong on some things, but kept trudging through the process and came out in the end (by the way, if you happen to delay a bit, the interest rate in MA for judgments was some usurious 12% or so, and I waited until a month before the SOL ran out..).

I think everybody owes it to the rest of us to stick it out through a small claims court or other judgment once or twice in their lives, even if they don't end up winning, just so the deadbeats and petty criminals know that the law is there and it is coming for them.  Plus, it demystifies the whole court process for you in case you need to go through it again.



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