Diving In Dumpsters

August 11, 2023

I am not a lawyer, I am a judgment broker. This article is my opinion, and not legal advice, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each state. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

One “dirty trick” used by some judgment recovery specialists is Dumpster Diving. Dumpster Diving is intercepting and inspecting a judgment debtor’s garbage. It is messy, slightly risky, and is obviously is not a first, or a favorite way to find clues about where judgment debtors go, and their assets.

Usually, dumpster dives are reserved for clever judgment debtors that are wealthy, yet seems to own nothing. Even with average judgment debtors, if the judgment enforcer has the nose for it, dumpster diving can be one of the most effective and cost efficient method of finding information about a judgment debtor’s assets.

Besides disgusting trash, what can one find in a judgment debtor’s trash can? Judgment enforcers have found address verifications, bank statements, paycheck stubs, and information about family members, properties, businesses, and investments; in trash cans.

The busier and wealthier a judgment debtor is, the more valuable information they are likely to leave in their trash. Dumpster diving is rarely used with poor debtors, because they usually will have only trash in their trash.

The amount listed on the judgment is not going to tell you anything about the judgment debtor. Where they live and what they drive will at least tell you what kind of cash flow they have. Cash flow will not tell you if they own anything, only that they handle a cash flow. If they have a cash flow, you can probably have some of it levied.

Dumpster diving is not for everyone. Even if you are willing to do it, not everyone will approve. The original judgment creditor and your judgment recovery buddies might cheer, however your spouse and family might suggest that you find another line of work. Besides the smell, mess, and hassles of dumpster diving, there are other risks and drawbacks.

First, there are the hassles. Garbage stinks, and handling and driving with garbage in bags, is not on anyone’s top ten list. One should count on bags leaking, so keeping them on top of plastic garbage bag liners, drop cloths, or old rags, is a good idea.

There are also the risks. There could be nasty and dangerous items, for example toxic chemicals or uncapped drug needles. You might be stopped by the police for acting suspicious. You may be confronted by an angry dog or person.

I read that there is a US Supreme Court ruling that states once garbage is on the street in the cans, it is no longer private property. However, some communities have laws against taking or inspecting trash, so check with your local authorities.

Thinking about what you are throwing into your trash, makes you want to use a shredder.

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