Have you ever heard someone referring to a cat and mouse game? The idiom is a reference to house cats hunting down pesky mice. Meanwhile, the mice are doing everything in their power to avoid being caught. In the financial world, the ultimate game of cat and mouse is judgment collection.
Judgments are not just standard debts sent to a collection agency. They are legally recognized debts established by a court of law. As such, collection agencies specializing in judgments have access to legal tools unavailable for standard debt collection.
The difficulty of collecting on judgments is such that not every collection agency does it. The best in the business focus all their attention on judgments. This particular area of debt collection is so specialized that agencies cannot afford to be distracted by other types of cases.
The Nature of Judgments
Judgments are somewhat unique in their nature. First of all, they don’t appear overnight. Judgments are the result of civil litigation. As a general rule, a creditor has to endure a lot before pursuing civil recourse. This generally means that the creditor is dealing with a debtor who has already demonstrated an unwillingness to pay.
Going to court does not necessarily increase a creditor’s chances of getting paid. Instead, civil litigation gives creditors access to certain legal tools it could otherwise not use to collect. These tools include things like wage garnishment and placing liens on personal property.
Debtors Fail to Cooperate
Winning a judgment but failing to secure the debtor’s cooperation is not unusual. In fact, it is quite common. A debtor willing to avoid payment long enough to end up in court generally has no qualms about continuing avoidance. If they intended to pay what they owed, they would have done so long before being served with a lawsuit.
What makes it interesting is what happens after a judgment is entered. By the letter of the law, debtors are expected to voluntarily disclose their assets. Some debtors are less than forthcoming in this matter. Others do not even bother responding. This is where the cat and mouse game often begins.
Tracking Down Debtors and Assets
Salt Lake City’s Judgment Collectors explains that creditors lose the minute they decide they are not willing to play the game. Not putting forth the effort to track down debtors and assets allows said debtors to continue stalling indefinitely. They simply have to wait until the statute of limitations runs out.
On the other hand, a skilled debt collection agency – like Judgment Collectors – doesn’t sit around and wait. It goes after debtors and assets using every legal tool at its disposal. For instance, collection agencies can pour over property transaction records in hopes of discovering any transaction relating to the debtor.
A debtor might try to hide property by transferring it to an immediate family member. That transaction will end up as part of the public record. Once a collection agency finds the record, all bets are off. The agency now has the upper hand.
Persistence Wins the Prize
In the cat and mouse game that is judgment collection, persistence almost always wins the prize. It is simply a matter of which party is going to be more persistent for longer. Fortunately, collection agencies have the upper hand because they have more tools at their disposal. It is surprising that more creditors don’t utilize the services of judgment collection specialists.
At any rate, collecting unpaid judgments is the ultimate cat and mouse game. If you ever find yourself playing the part of the mouse, be warned: your chances of winning are pretty slim.