Judgment Recovery: An Explanation in Plain English

For many of us who are in the judgment recovery industry, we often forget that the rest of the world may not really have a clue about what ‘Judgment Recovery‘ is. Here’s an explanation in plain English…

The Dispute

Imagine yourself as John Smith. One of your less fortunate friends, Dan Deadbeat, approaches you for a $2,000 loan so he can buy a used car. You loan him the money, with the understanding that he’ll pay you back in two months.

Two months have gone by, and you’ve called Dan and left several messages – which he doesn’t return. To make the story more interesting, imagine you’ve heard that Dan received a hefty sum of cash from a recently departed relative, so you know he has the money to repay you.

Now six months have passed, but Dan still won’t pay you back. You do what any law-abiding citizen does, and you take the son-of-a-gun to court.

The Court System

After paying your filing fee you are met with an onslaught of forms that must be completed and served on Mr. Deadbeat. You puzzle the forms out, and hand them to the court clerk, who promptly tells you they’re not correct and hands them back.

Now – getting information out of a court clerk can be like trying to corral a herd of eels if you don’t know the right questions to ask. So if you get any information at all, you’re more turned around than when you asked in the first place. But (somehow) you manage to get it done and you schedule your court date.

Your day in court arrives and (wonder of wonders) the judge awards you the judgment. You breathe a big sigh of relief and waive your piece of paper in triumph.

A month goes by.

No word from Dan – or the court. You’re thinking there must have been some hiccup in the legal process because you haven’t seen a check in the mail yet. Naturally, you call the court clerk to ask why you haven’t received your money.

Now comes the big surprise. A real whopper.

It’s totally up to you to make Dan pay. The court can’t help you.

You can garnish Dan’s wages, but where does he work? You can seize Dan’s bank account, but which bank? You can make the sheriff take the car and sell it, but do you know how? Probably none of the above. Back to square one (which is nowhere, by the way).

Can you see the need for someone who not only knows what court procedures to use to enforce the judgment, but how to get the information needed to implement them?

The Judgment Recovery Specialist

One day, a couple of years later, you receive a letter from Statewide Judgment Recovery. Now, believe it or not, you had really forgotten all about the judgment you won against Dan. Of course, this letter sparks your curiosity, so you open it.

It isn’t exactly what you expected, but perhaps the next best thing. This company is telling you they’d seen your judgment at the courthouse and noticed it hasn’t been paid. They want to know if you would be interested in letting them enforce the judgment. Since the company is willing to pay for all of the costs associated with collecting the judgment, no money will come out of your pocket.

Figuring you have nothing to lose, you call the company and take a few minutes to review your case with a friendly and helpful person on the phone.

She tells you they will handle everything necessary to enforce the judgment in exchange for 50% of whatever is collected. It really just turns out to be a simple matter of signing a couple of agreements.

Now, let’s give this faceless judgment recovery person an identity. Let’s call her Beverly. Beverly is a highly trained, specialized kind of bull dog. She’s equipped with everything she needs and all the tricks of the trade to make sure you get your money.

After Beverly receives your signed agreements, she files them with the court clerk, who is actually on good terms with her because they deal with each other all the time. Then the real work begins.

The Chase Is On!

Since you didn’t really have very much information to give Beverly about Dan, it is now up to her to find Dan and his assets. No problem for Beverly, she eats cases like this one for breakfast. In no time at all she nails down where Dan banks and is ready to get the ball rolling.

When a judgment is assigned to someone like Beverly, she becomes, in the eyes of the law, the judgment creditor and new owner of the judgment. She has exactly the same right of enforcement that you had to use the powerful legal remedies provided by law to force Dan to pay the judgment. Actually, Dan now owes the debt to Beverly.

Beverly files a form with the court and sends the sheriff over to the bank to seize the money in the account. A bank account seizure freezes all of the money in the account from the moment it is delivered to the bank. When she receives a check for the money that was in the account, she reimburses herself for the fees she incurred (around $35).

Any court filing fees that Beverly spends are reimbursable, so Beverly adds these costs to the judgment. Dan will ultimately pay for them. Then she keeps half for herself and mails a check for the remainder to you.

The ending to this story is a happy one. You received a substantial chunk of the money that Dan owed you and Beverly got a hefty well-deserved sum as well.

I hope you enjoyed that scenario. If there are other specific topics you’d like to see discussed on this blog, please feel free to post a comment and I’ll do my best to cover them for you.

Warm Regards,


Christina Smiley
Sierra Judgment Recovery



Marketing Your Judgment Recovery Business

Initially, most of your new business will be obtained through civil case file research, by sending a personalized letter to the judgment holder that includes information about their judgment. This is a highly targeted way to market, and definitely NOT a ‘shotgun’ approach. My research shows that contacting a judgment holder directly has by far the best response and marketing results.

Civil case files are public record and available from any courthouse. These files will show you who has been awarded a judgment, how much it was, and will also provide the contact information for the judgment holder. Many areas even offer free online access to these files (we’ll get to that later). Once you’ve determined which judgment holders would benefit from your service you’ll send a letter directly to the judgment holder.

In the beginning you’ll want to give yourself a ‘jump start’ by researching case files to directly contact people who have been awarded judgments. You can typically anticipate spending 2-3 hours, once each week, to conduct this type of onsite research. This will also familiarize you with the contents of a case file, what your state’s legal forms look like and what their functions are.

If you are fortunate enough to have access to civil case files on the Internet, then you’ll be pleased to know that time at the courthouse to research your leads may be unnecessary, or at least limited. Some states offer online access statewide, while others only offer access in certain counties or cities. An Online Access Guide, with direct links to those courts offering access, is included in the training materials.

Each state and/or county generally has a different set up for accessing these files. The quality of the information that you are able to obtain online will vary from site to site. Some sites only provide minimal information, while others go so far as to scan every document ever filed into the system for viewing. Most offer free access, while some may charge a nominal fee for general access, or a fee if you want more detailed information.

If you’re finding basic information about the cases online, but not getting enough information to send a solicitation letter (no contact information), you’ll want to use the online database to at least narrow down your prospects. It will still save you time to be able to go through the cases online and make a list of cases for the court clerk to pull for your review at the courthouse.

If you have no online access available in your immediate area, and weekly visits to the courthouse prove to be too labor intensive, there is certainly no reason you couldn’t recover judgments in an area outside of where your business is physically located. The judgment recovery training program also includes a State-By-State Civil Research Guide that will provide you with state specific judgment enforcement information for each state.

You’ll find that most courts will accept mailed or faxed filings. Additionally, if you needed to, you could work with a process server in the area or state where the court is located. Any expense you may incur is reimbursable as a cost after judgment. Or you could get in touch with another judgment recovery company from our National Member Network, or through the Member Email Discussion Forum in that area if you needed assistance with something.

Marketing directly to businesses is also a good way to go, and a fantastic way to cater to a specific ‘niche.’ These days, for me personally, nearly all of my current judgments come from either businesses that I’ve developed a relationship with, or referrals from attorneys and paralegals in my area. Some of these businesses include property managers, used car lots, contractors, pawn shops, jewelers, furniture stores, check cashing or payday advance companies, etc. Use your imagination here…

These – and other – types of businesses tend to sue in court on a regular basis and have many judgments to assign. Since they are constantly taking debtors to court, the judgments keep flowing in.

Joining your local Chamber of Commerce and other community groups will put you in direct contact with a surprising number of individuals and companies that need your services. By participating in these local meetings and functions, you’ll also go a long way toward establishing your credibility. Speaking of local exposure, most smaller local newspapers will often showcase businesses or publish a press release about your new business – especially if it’s not your typical run of the mill type of business.

I haven’t brought up traditional advertising, simply because most who are just getting started are looking to cut costs as much as possible. Advertisements can be effective (I’ve included examples in the materials), but if you plan to advertise I wouldn’t rely on it solely to bring you business. If you decide to run a simple ad, it should be in an area of general readership because most judgment holders don’t even realize they have any options for collecting their judgment.

This, of course, is a general overview of the marketing methods we use to attract new customers. Marketing will be the life-blood of your business. Having a variety of different ways to make your services known will keep your bottom line healthy and help your business to grow.

As always, I welcome your questions or comments. You can comment below, or email me personally at csmiley@recoverycourse.com. Or, of course, feel free to give me a call at (912) 882-8190.

Warm Regards,


P.S. Don’t forget about my Spring Special running May through June. Purchase the electronic downloadable version of the training program and also receive the hard-copy written version for only $29.95 more (includes shipping). That’s $10 LESS than the hard-copy version alone! This offer is only available to SJR Newsletter subscribers. Click here to get started: SIGN ME UP!