Introduction

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You won. Congratulations! You undoubtedly want to collect every penny from the opposing party, pronto. If the other party is cooperative, that won't be much trouble. But some defendants have figured out that typically the court will not make them pay unless you take action. That's where this chapter comes in, explaining when you can start your collection efforts and how to enforce your judgment. With a little patience and some careful planning, you should be able to collect–by garnishing wages, attaching the defendant's bank account, or taking other legal steps.

Don't harass the debtor. Businesses that regularly attempt to collect debts for another's business' consumer customers are subject to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (15 U.S.C. §1692-1692p.), and in most states, subject to similar state laws. These laws protect consumer debtors from abusive or unfair conduct. Basically, the rules prohibit conduct such as calling the debtor so often that it is harassing, causing the debtor's phone to ring continuously, using profane language, or badmouthing the debtor in the community. Some state laws apply even if you are doing your own collections. If you plan to do your own collections, you should consult with a lawyer and/or review your state law carefully. (Of course, it's fine to talk about the judgment to officials who are helping with the collection process.) Even if you are trying to collect debts not covered by these consumer protection laws, other more general laws may apply if you use abusive or unfair tactics, so it's best to avoid inappropriate conduct.

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