The primary tools to recover judgments are employment and bank levies. Before you can arrange and pay for a Sheriff to levy your judgment debtor’s bank account or their employment income, you must locate and identify their bank location or employer.
Although nothing is guaranteed in judgment recovery, you have an advantage if you already know where your judgment debtor works or banks. If you do not know, it can make a lot of sense to pay a service to find out where your judgment debtor banks or works; often known as a Place Of Employment search, abbreviated as a POE search.
This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer. You can find bank or POE location companies on the web, or on forums and email list-serves which are read or visited by judgment enforcers and collection lawyers. The advantage of asking about topics such as bank and employment search companies, try to get feedback from people who have recent experiences.
To use a bank or POE locating service, you must have a good reason, and often show proof of that permissible reason. Valid reasons usually mean you are either an attorney, an assignee of record for a judgment you own, a collection agency, the original judgment creditor, or a licensed private investigator.
How do bank and POE search companies do their job? I think this is similar to how sausage is made. Even if you like to eat sausage, most should avoid seeing sausage being made. While companies searching for banks and POEs use some techniques that include what you would do, for example Google searches; most use proprietary systems, information, and methods.
The easily found, and recommended bank and POE search companies are all Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) compliant. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act did not make bank account locates illegal, however it made pretexting banks or bank customers illegal. If one violates, or helps to cause a violation of a GLB privacy and anti-deception law, they can get in trouble and have to pay damages and/or fines.
While some meat vendors claim all their beef is kosher, sometimes it is not. While a spouse might claim they have always been faithful, some have not been. While some bank and POE search companies claim they are GLB compliant, not all are, in every case.
It is a good idea to choose bank and job search companies that claim they are GLB compliant, and also recommended by others in the judgment recovery business. Perhaps a few of the most accurate bank account search companies might be operating in at least, a gray area of the law. I have heard rumors that a few bank account locate companies might possibly be breaking the law; and they usually do not have web sites or advertise, getting their customers by referral only.
The average bank/POE locate company charges between $50 and $300. Often, you get what you pay for. The more expensive ones might offer faster service, or may dig deeper to find bank accounts related in some way to your judgment debtor. No matter how much you pay, you are probably wasting your money if your judgment debtor is poor. Sometimes you must pay something even if there is no “hit”, or must pay a deposit with each order.
Most bank/POE search companies require what is known about your judgment debtor, including their private information. Turn-around time is usually between one day and two weeks. It is better to get accurate information in two weeks, than the wrong information overnight. While some vendors guarantee their results, you still must pay the court, Sheriff, and sometimes a process server; which is again, the reason not to order bank account locates on poor judgment debtors.