Getting a Debtor to Pay Voluntarily

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The easiest way to collect is to encourage the debtor to pay you voluntarily. 
Here are four things you can do:

1. Write a letter.
Write a letter to the judgment debtor. You can write this letter on your own. (Look at a Sample Letter, Opens new window or use a Computer program Opens new window to write your letter.)  Reasons that you can include in this letter about why it makes sense for him or her to pay you the court ordered judgment include:

  • If the debtor does not pay you, you (the judgment creditor) can receive 10% interest per year from the date the judgment was ordered, plus reimbursement of any reasonable and necessary costs of collection, until the debtor pays the entire judgment. (See California Code of Civil Procedure, Sections 685.010 through 685.040) Opens new window  
  • Judgments are enforceable for 10 years and are renewable for another 10 years and then renewable after that.  For more information, read How much time does the creditor have to collect the judgment?  For the law that provides for the renewal of judgment, see Calif. Code of Civil Procedure sections 683.110 through 683.220. Opens new window
  • Credit reporting agencies will know the debtor hasn't paid the judgment because the debtor's name appears on the court's "Judgment Roll" – a public document. The sooner the debtor pays you, the better it may be for the debtor’s credit report.
  • If the judgment debtor does not pay, you, the judgment creditor, can ask for: 

    • A wage garnishment against the debtor, debtor's spouse, or the debtor's domestic partner (if against the spouse or domestic partner a court hearing and order is required);
    • A levy on the debtor's bank account, credit union account, and/or safe deposit box;
    • Placement of liens on real property or personal property; and
    • Suspension of the debtor's real estate, contractor's, or driver's license under certain circumstances.

2. Help the debtor find assets to pay the judgment.
Sometimes debtors honestly believe they don't have any way to pay the judgment debt. You might encourage your debtor to consider using one or more of the following sources to pay the amount they owe: 

  • Borrow against a retirement account (401(k)), 
  • Get a credit card cash advance, 
  • Use their income tax refund, 
  • Take a personal loan, 
  • Have a garage sale, 
  • Auction personal items on the Internet.

3. Be flexible about payment terms.
Sometimes, being flexible will pay off. Here are some ideas: 

  • Accept (weekly or monthly) payments, 
  • Accept less than what the court ordered,
  • Let the debtor pay you with property or work instead of money, 
  • If the debtor is out of work, help the debtor find work.

4. Accept installment payments.
If you decide to accept installment payments, write a letter to the debtor. Explain how you expect the judgment to be paid. Include payment of interest and costs, if any. Here is Sample Letter Opens new window that asks for installment payments.  



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