I am not a lawyer, I am a judgment broker. This article is my opinion, based on my experience in California, and laws vary in each state. Nothing in any of my articles should ever be considered legal advice. If you ever need legal advice or a strategy to use, you should contact a lawyer.
When you start a judgment business, or any business, you will be choosing and verifying a good business name. If your name is (e.g.) Frank Smith, you could register a franksmith domain, and do business under your own name. You could then skip getting a fictitious business name (doing business as) registration. However, most people form a business under another name, such as JudmgentsRus, and file a fictitious business name application.
Unless you are an attorney, you cannot represent anyone else. If you are a sole proprietor using a DBA, when in court, or when signing court documents for judgments you own, you must sign them with your real name. A DBA is not a separate entity from you.
The only advantage to signing court documents with your name and also your DBA business name, is if you have a catchy DBA name and you think someone might notice it. This happens less often than one might think. So signing court documents just with your name, saves you time and hassle.
Note that in most states (South Carolina being one exception) LLCs and corporations cannot represent themselves in court. For most judgment recovery businesses, it is usually best not to form a corporate entity.
If you are going to hire a lawyer to represent you or your company in all court matters, or you are part of a collection agency, forming or using a corporate entity might make a lot of sense.
Forming a corporate entity can be expensive. In California, you must pay the state $800 per year (even if you lose money), and hire an accountant to file your corporate taxes, etc. It is best to check your local state and county laws, and talk with both an accountant and a lawyer, before planning or forming a corporate entity to recover judgments or debts.
What business name should you use? If you are mailing letters to judgment debtors after you own judgments, you cannot put anything related to debts or judgment collection on the envelope. I run a judgment-related company, however I do not put my business name on envelopes.
Some data service do not like to see the word judgment in business names. Collection is a better name to them. Also, there are still some directories that do not have judgment enforcement as a category, however collections almost always has a category.
The average person starting a judgment recovery business without having a name yet, you should consider picking a business name and domain name that hints of solutions or problem solving, instead of recovery or collections. Frank Smith could name his company “FS Services”. Some people would rather do business with a company, even a DBA sole proprietor, than just a name doing business as a sole proprietor.
It is not your name, it is what you do with it. What counts is the work you put into marketing your name, and the quality work associated with it. Some smart people made a company called Google, and now when you think of the word “search”, you think of Google.
Most businesses take a lot longer to generate a consistent profit, than the person who started the business ever imagined. This is especially true in most judgment enforcement businesses. On the web, a domain name with words such as judgment or enforcement may be a good idea. Even if your domain name is JudmgentsrUs.com, you can still do business as FS Enterprises, a DBA of Frank Smith.