I’m a judgment broker, and not an attorney. This article is my opinion, and is not legal advice. If you ever need a strategy to use or legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
Being polite is one of those rare judgment recovery tools that cost nothing. Starting a recovery with politeness to your judgment debtor is easy, has very few drawbacks, with might help satisfy your judgment.
Prior to, during, and some time after the court proceedings which caused the judgment; the debtor might have been under stress. However, maybe now, learning about your easy, relaxed payment proposal, in which you suggest compromising to some degree on what is owed, could appeal to the debtor.
Diplomacy does not mean becoming a pushover, or letting yourself get ripped off. Politeness means both sides are willing to negotiate to benefit both of them. Politeness requires some type of communication between the parties. Being diplomatic is best when your debtor wants to work with you.
Enforcing your judgment with diplomacy starts when one uses the phone, the post office, or even arrange to discuss in person; how amenable the debtor is to your concept of working with you, to solve the mutual problem of the unsatisfied judgment debt.
If the judgment debtor returns a telephone call, or communicates a response to your communication, that’s good. Some people that do not respond the first time, might respond when you try again months later.
Email is fine, after one has first contacted your debtor a different way, and are on good terms with them. Stay cautious on e-mail, keep it friendly and short when discussing topics related to the judgment. It’s ok to cover topics such as the the weather or sports.
When trading emails, try not to share private information or discussing things in detail. Keep discussions concerning debts or judgments as polite and short as you can. Conversations with debtors using email should stay along the lines of general wordings like: “Got your check, thanks”, “Didn’t get the check yet, thanks”, “OK, try to send your check if you can”, “Call me please”, and “I’ll mail you your statement”.
It is not useful to enter conversations on whether or not the decision of a court was proper or not. Be empathetic and sympathetic, however politely remind the debtor it is the judge’s order that is important. Remind the debtor it’s is best to work toward the solution, instead of dwelling on the past that cannot be changed. Any time one can persuade your judgment debtor to repay you voluntarily, it saves you time and money enforcing a judgment. With typical debtors, perhaps try polite discussions first.
When the debtor is a world-class scammer, you might wish to quickly start with heavy-duty enforcement tactics, to catch their assets by surprise, before they can try to conceal their assets further. A fraud might attempt to conceal their money. Last-minute asset concealment rarely tricks recovery specialists or courts.
The primary point to make to the debtor, is that judgments accrue interest, and judgments can get renewed, perhaps till the cows come home. If they agree to quickly begin making payments or settle with a lump sum, you could forgo some of the accrued interest, and save them a lot of recovery costs. Working with you, saves them a lot of time, hassles, and money.
Sometimes a debtor is willing to pay, however doesn’t have the funds available to pay you. A payment plan may be a solution. Even an judgment debtor cannot predict their future. When the judgment debtor is poor, having the debtor pay what they are able to, when they have some spare cash, should be your goal.
Even if the debtor has a job and/or income, it’s not likely they can consistently make (on time) long term payments. It’s a good idea to get them to agree to contact you by email, phone, or mail once a month; even if only to tell you they “cannot pay you this month”.
The worst thing that can happen if you start by being diplomatic, is that a debtor will not respond or might be uncivil; in which case you can start regular judgment enforcement strategies.