16 Tax Advantages for Home Businesses

Another tax deadline has come and gone. Most traditionally employed hard-working folks have given up almost half of their hard-earned wages for taxes, and then they get to survive on what’s left. Taxes may be a source of stress and anxiety for many, but it shouldn’t be for home business owners. Home-based business owners now qualify for more tax deductions than any other category of taxpayer in America.

In any home business you have many, many more tax advantages than you would if you were simply working for someone else. Even if you decide to keep your current job and start a home business part-time, you’d still be able to deduct business expenses.

These advantages really snowball when you consider how you can improve the bottom line profit of your home business by declaring all of the deductions you’re entitled to. So let’s look at some of the deductions you can take with a small home business:

1. Home Office

If you’re concerned that claiming a home-office deduction is like waving a giant red-flag at a bull and taunting the IRS to audit you – don’t be. The key is that you must use the definition of “home office” the same way the Internal Revenue Service does. The IRS says it must be a space devoted to your business and absolutely nothing else, but the deduction isn’t limited to a full room. If your “office” occupies half of your guest bedroom, it’s still deductible.

Once you determine how large your workspace is, you can divide it by the square footage of your entire residence. That will give you the percentage to calculate how much of your home-related business expenses you can deduct (rent/mortgage, mortgage interest, insurance, etc). And don’t forget the bathroom! The IRS considers that an acceptable addition to the amount of space required for your home business use.

2. Utilities

A percentage of your electricity, natural gas, water, sewer – and even garbage removal can be deducted. Just be sure to follow the same percentage guidelines as you would to determine what portion of your rent/mortgage is deductible.

3. Tuition and Educational Materials

Any cost you incur for legitimate educational needs can be claimed. This includes books/training materials, college or vocational courses (both on campus and online) or any other expense related to educating yourself for your business. Did you learn a new language to help you communicate with more customers? That’s deductible, too.

4. Office Supplies

Any office supplies you purchase for your business are deductible. That also includes postage, stationery, business cards… even coffee and toilet paper. Be sure you keep your receipts – or some other type of accounting (like a spreadsheet) for these expenses if you’re using a credit card.

5. Furniture

Desks, filing cabinets, bookshelves, chairs – even artwork – it’s all deductible if you purchased them for legitimate business purposes. There are a couple of different ways you can go, when deducting expense for furniture. You can deduct the cost of the purchase in its entirety for the year of purchase, or you can deduct a portion of the expense each year for seven years.

6. Other Equipment

Computers, fax machines, printers, scanners, calculators, postage meters or any other business related equipment are also a valid tax deduction. Similar to the furniture, you can deduct all of it in one year, or depreciate it over a five year period. Don’t forget that cell phone, if you’re using it strictly for business!

7. Software and Subscriptions

A newer tax break now allows for you to deduct the cost of any computer software you purchase without having to depreciate the cost over a period of years. Add to this the cost of any subscriptions to industry-related magazines, newsletters or other publications – including subscriptions to databases for skip tracing information – which is all considered a legitimate business expense.

8. Advertising and Marketing Costs

Any costs you incur to market your business, including both print and Internet advertisements, website design and upkeep, and even purchased marketing leads are all deductable expenses.

9. Professional and Consulting Fees

That CPA you hired to help you figure out your taxes? That’s tax deductible, too. As well as attorney fees or any other professional or consulting fees for the business you may have incurred.

10. Mileage

With a judgment recovery business, it’s unlikely that you’ll rack up a lot of mileage for business-related travel, but it should still be noted that you can claim this expense as a deduction. But if you do, be sure you keep track of your information. Record the date, mileage, parking costs, tolls, as well as the purpose of the trip.

If you’re purchasing a vehicle for business purposes, you can include the depreciation of your vehicle as well as the interest on your loan. Lease payments are also deductible.

11. Travel, Entertainment, Gifts and Meals

If, for some reason, you must travel, 100% of your lodging, travel (auto, air or rail) is deductible, as are any costs associated with the travel, such as dry cleaning and rental cars, etc. However, be aware that only 50% of your meals are tax deductible. You can also include 50% of any meals with customers, if you’re discussing business-related matters. Any gifts purchased for customers, or an employee, is 100% deductible, but you’re only allowed to spend up to $25 each year per person.

12. Insurance Premiums

Any healthcare insurance you pay for yourself is completely deductible (so long as you weren’t eligible for other coverage – including any available through an employed spouse’s medical plan). If your spouse worked for you, you can deduct all the medical premiums paid for your spouse and your family, if they were listed as dependents.

13. Retirement Contributions

Saving up for a rainy day is actually encouraged by the IRS. If you’re contributing to a SEP-IRA or Keogh for your own retirement, it’s all completely deductible.

14. Social Security

The good, the bad and the… well, you know how it goes. I’m a glass half full kind of gal, so I’ll start with the good news, which is that you can deduct half of all social security contributions you’re required to pay for yourself for the year. The bad news: You must contribute a chunk of your net profits to social security… sometimes referred to as “self-employment tax.” But, hey, at least you can take half of it back.

15. Telephone Charges

Telephone costs are 100% deductible. The easiest way to keep track of this is to have a separate telephone line, dedicated specifically for business use. If you don’t, and you’re sharing a home landline or cell phone for personal and business use, you can still deduct any portion of business related expense. You’ll need to circle the business-related calls on your phone bills and keep track of the total.

16. Child Labor

This is a little-known deduction and shouldn’t be overlooked. I always hired my kids in the summer (they have to be 12 or older). It gave them some responsibility, and also gave me the perfect opportunity to inspire them and help to influence their work ethic. If your child is younger than 17, not only can you deduct what you pay them as a business expense – you won’t have to contribute social security tax for them, either. I should mention, though, that this does not apply if you operate as a corporation or LLC… You can only take advantage of the social security tax break for your kids if you’re operating as a sole proprietorship.

Isn’t all of this great news? This is just a short list of the many business deductions available to you when you operate a business from home.

Honestly, what was the one most important factor that made you look into starting a home based business? I feel pretty safe saying most likely it was to “make more money.” Maybe your motivation is to have more spare time, freedom… or to be able to spend more time with your family. No matter the reason, there is no doubt that the tax advantages alone make it worth the effort.

Out of the few legitimate and low cost opportunities available to start a home based business, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better one than Judgment Recovery… and guess what? Training materials are tax deductible! So I hope you’ll take a moment to re-visit: recoverycourse.com for more information.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve explored judgment recovery, and you’d like to read through the free Judgment Recovery 101 Start Up Guide again, you can download it here: www.recoverycourse.com/JR_101.pdf. If you have any trouble with the download, just CONTACT ME and I’ll send it to you manually.

Are you ready to go ahead and get started with your judgment recovery business? If today is the day, great! Just click here: Join SJR

Have a great week!

Christina Smiley

Sierra Judgment Recovery
Professional Judgment Recovery Training

Sierra Judgment Recovery Home
Judgment Recovery Training
Free Judgment Recovery Start Up Guide

Judgment Recovery Case Study: The Delinquent Designer

In this case, Anderson Engineering, Inc. hired Giometti Design LLC as an independent contractor for website design services and ongoing IT management for a major company website. The contractor, Giometti Design had been paid in advance by Anderson Engineering, but the services were never provided. A judgment for $3,250.00 was awarded to Anderson Engineering, Inc. for breach of contract.

Giometti Design LLC turned out to be a one-man operation. According to the status on the Secretary of State’s website, his business was officially still active. At the time of my initial due diligence, I could find no evidence of any recent activity, and no telephone numbers or listings that were still in service.

I ruled out bankruptcy, as part of my normal pre-screening routine and obtained credit information, which showed several charge-offs and overdue debts, many of which appeared to be unpaid medical bills. It looked like this case might be going nowhere… and fast.

Fortunately, Anderson Engineering had been able to provide some bank account information based on details returned from the initial check the company had paid to Giometti Design. The returned check showed the bank where the check had been deposited. I determined that the account was still open, so I issued a writ of execution from the court, delivered that and my written instructions to the county sheriff, and the funds in the account were seized. Unfortunately, there was only around $350, give or take, in the account at the time it was seized.

I prepared to start digging around for more potential assets, like business equipment or other streams of income. It was then that Mr. Giometti contacted me. He told me he was permanently disabled, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which was why he hadn’t been able to complete the contracted work in the first place, and also why his business was no longer generating any profit. He offered to settle the judgment for another $1000 in addition to what I’d already seized in the bank account, which was all he could realistically spare. Since I’d already done my homework, I knew that he was being perfectly honest about that.

I am not a hard-hearted person. I know and understand that sometimes life throws a curve ball at you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Since I had no desire to try squeezing water from a rock, and I sympathized with his situation, I told him that if he could provide verification of his medical condition from a physician that I would consider his settlement offer. Shortly after that I received the verification I needed from his physician. Unfortunately, poor Mr. Giometti would never be returning to work, and his condition was steadily deteriorating.

As a matter of courtesy I contacted the CEO at Anderson Engineering to discuss the settlement offer. Although technically, whether or not a settlement offer was deemed acceptable, or appropriate was completely up to me, because my signed agreement documents clearly state that I have the power to negotiate or settle the judgment. Nevertheless, Mr. Anderson also felt that the settlement was the best way to go, considering the circumstances.

Mr. Giometti sent the promised settlement and I issued a satisfaction of the judgment and put the whole sorry business to bed.

I know that the first couple of case studies I wrote about had happy endings, but I suppose the moral of this particular case is that it would be unrealistic to expect to collect every single judgment that’s assigned to you (even though I did manage to collect a portion of the Giometti Design judgment).

There will inevitably be cases where the judgment debtor has either fallen off the face of the earth, or they may be squeaking out a living on exempt income sources like welfare or disability. Worse, they may be dealing with situations that make it impossible for them to pay, which I’m sure all of us can relate to in some way or another… So I guess the other point I’m trying to get across by sharing this case study is that as the judgment creditor you are in control of the enforcement of the judgment. It’s your own decision as to whether or not you pursue the enforcement of any judgment assigned to you.

Sometimes people ask me if I ‘feel bad’ about making judgment debtors pay up. I have never had any bad feelings or reservations about the nature of the service I am providing. The money that I recover was ordered by a court of law for the debtor to pay (usually for a good reason), and typically this is money came that out of judgment holder’s pocket. Is it fair to them when the debtor doesn’t pay? Some cases will involve collecting from financially challenged debtors – it just comes with the territory – but in those cases you can always offer an alternative to them to make a monthly payment that they feel they can afford or a settlement.

The bottom line is, I get many heartfelt thanks from satisfied customers even if I’m only able to collect a portion of the judgment. Many of them are amazed that I was able to collect anything at all! I suppose they figure that if they couldn’t collect it… no one could.

As always, I welcome your comments, questions or topic suggestions.

Warm Regards,


Christina Smiley
Sierra Judgment Recovery
SJR Strategic Research

Please note: I am not an attorney, nor do I aspire to be one. If you need legal advice, please consult qualified legal counsel.

Judgment Recovery Case Study: The “Eyes” Have It

Have you ever found yourself wondering what sort of issues bring people to court? There’s the usual run of the mill stuff… unpaid loans, property disputes, evictions – and all that. But every now and then a case comes along that just goes to show that sometimes there’s nothing mundane about civil disputes.

Consider the following case, where Janet Lawrence responded to an advertisement at a local tattoo parlor for a cosmetic procedure. Ms. Lawrence had long been thinking about permanent eyebrow application, which is generally done via tattoo. Initially, all went well and Ms. Lawrence was very satisfied with the results. A few days later told a different story, however, as an infection had set in. The consequences were, let us say… less than attractive. It also caused permanent disfigurement and scarring. According to Janet’s doctor, this type of infection was usually caused from exposure to dirty or poorly sterilized equipment.

After unsuccessfully seeking reimbursement from the tattoo parlor for the cost of the initial procedure and her medical bills, Ms. Lawrence took the tattoo parlor to court and was awarded a $2,400.00 judgment.

Some general statistics about this case: By the time it had been assigned to me, the judgment was 8 years old. In this state, judgments are enforceable for a period of 10 years, and can be renewed indefinitely. Interest was also accruing at the legal rate of 10%, so by this time the actual amount due was approximately $3,600 (and change), and accruing interest at the rate of $0.65 per day.

The first order of business was to find out if the tattoo parlor was still up and running. After a quick check with the city’s business licensing department, it was no surprise to learn that the business had gone under years ago. Not too shocking, considering their methods of operation left a lot to be desired. It wasn’t a total loss, though, because I was able to determine that the business was structured as a sole proprietorship – or ‘D/B/A’ – rather than an LLC, a corporation, or other separately structured entity.

A little background information will help you understand the critical differences when it comes to how businesses are structured. A sole proprietorship (D/B/A) is simply an individual person operating under an assumed business name – legally it’s just an extension of the person. This is important because it means that even if the business is not still operating, the individual person is still responsible for the debts incurred under the business name. The same is not true of an LLC or other incorporated entity. That type of business is considered a completely separate entity – like a whole other ‘person’ – in which case, the officer(s) of the LLC or corporation would not be responsible for the debts incurred by the business.

Why is this important? It means that even though the business failed, I can still enforce the judgment against the owner, Jake Morris. And that’s exactly what I proceeded to do. But wait – it gets better!

I started with my usual due diligence, which is generally always the same. If you missed that in last week’s case study, you can read about it here: http://www.recoverycourse.com/blog/?p=94

While researching the debtor, Jake Morris, I learned that he’d set up shop again a couple of years ago, across town in a new location. Again I checked on the business status, and yes – another sole proprietorship. This was excellent news, because it meant that now I could not only proceed with the seizure of any assets owned by Jake Morris, but also his new tattoo parlor.

There are many ways I could have gone with this case. I could have spent time and resources finding property, bank account(s), and other personal assets belonging to Morris, but rather than waste valuable time and expense, I decided to go right for the jugular: the new business.

Surely having had to cope with a lingering bad rap from his last tattoo parlor, I anticipated the fastest way to make Morris pay would be to use some heavy-duty legal intimidation. I could have seized business equipment or bank accounts – because technically they all were Jake Morris’ property – but instead I went for the most sure-fire way to make him pay.

After having the court issue a writ of execution, I delivered my specific instructions to the County Sheriff’s levying officer. The County Sheriff’s office has a civil department that is dedicated specifically to acting on the instructions of judgment creditors to seize assets.

On Friday (which I assumed would be one of the tattoo parlor’s busier days), soon after opening, a Sheriff’s Deputy strolled through the door in full uniform. He served Morris with a copy of his official paperwork, notifying him that anything in his cash register was being taken to satisfy the judgment. Then the Deputy proceeded to take up station behind the register, and prepared to remain there for the next eight hours, intercepting any payments that customers would be making that day. This is referred to as a ‘Keeper.’

Although I wasn’t there to personally witness, I’m told by the deputy that Morris had a check in hand for the full amount of the judgment in less than five minutes. Have a nice day, sir.

Next week I’ll send the third installment of this series; a case study involving a company that sued another company, and the details that led to not only a great resolution, but an ongoing business relationship that’s still active today.

As usual, I welcome any comments or questions.

Warm Regards,


Christina Smiley
Sierra Judgment Recovery
SJR Strategic Research

Please note: I am not an attorney, nor do I aspire to be one. If you need legal advice, please consult qualified legal counsel.

Judgment Recovery Case Study: Hot Diggity Dog

People ask me what my day-to-day routine is like running my business – to which my response is always, “No two days are ever the same!” But I also know that wrapping your head around a new concept like judgment recovery can be a little mysterious to anyone who isn’t actually in the field.

For me, personally, real-life examples have always been the best way to grasp what something’s all about – so following is the first of three case studies that I’ll be sending you. These are actual judgment recovery cases, though I’ve changed the names for privacy purposes. This first case involves a judgment that was awarded to an individual person, against another individual.

To summarize the events leading up to the judgment, John Bennett’s Saint Bernard dug out from under his fence and proceeded to completely destroy his neighbor, Tom Campbell’s flower beds. Did someone bury a bone under there? Maybe it was the fertilizer… we’ll just never know. Unfortunately, Mr. Campbell had just spent thousands of dollars for professional landscaping and design. Needless to say,  when Mr. Bennett made it clear that he wasn’t inclined to pay for his dog’s tip-toe through the tulips, Mr. Campbell took Mr. Bennett to court to sue for compensation. A judgment was awarded to Mr. Campbell for $6,000.00.


To get right to the heart of the matter, we’ll pick this up from the point where the judgment has already been assigned, which was six years after it was awarded. We negotiated that I would enforce the judgment, keeping half of what I collected, and send the other half to Mr. Campbell as payment for the judgment. If you’re interested in the marketing process, you can read my article about that here: Marketing a Judgment Recovery Business

These cases all start out in much the same way. When the documents to assign the judgment were mailed to Mr. Campbell for a signature, I included a ‘Debtor Profile Worksheet’ – which is a tool I use to find out any and all information Mr. Campbell may have about Mr. Bennett (the judgment debtor). In this particular case, I received nothing more from Mr. Campbell other than Mr. Bennett’s name and old mailing address. That’s okay. That’s enough to start the pre-screening process.

Before I really got the ball rolling, I had to be sure I was pursuing the correct person and that I was aware of any potential aliases John Bennett was using. I also needed to get an idea about where I should start looking, so my first step was to use a credit header report to locate Bennett’s social security number, date of birth, and a reasonably current address. Seriously – with the right tools and resources all you need is a name and address to nail down this information.

Next, as part of my due diligence, I checked to make sure that the judgment hadn’t been included in any bankruptcy discharge. This, too, is a very basic and simple search. Bankruptcy filings can be a goldmine of information – so long as the actual debt wasn’t included in the discharge of debts. Bennett hadn’t filed any bankruptcy proceedings, so after that, I was good to go.

Since I always try to start with resources that are free – because let’s face it, free is good – I ‘Googled’ John Bennett to see if I could dig up anything floating around the Internet. You’d really be surprised at what’s out there… Newspaper articles, genealogies, LinkedIn, FaceBook profiles – just to name a few.

Unfortunately, this time I didn’t hit pay dirt. So next I turned to free public records to see if Bennett currently owned any real estate or businesses. Nada. I wasn’t discouraged, though, it’s all just part of the process. It was time to pull out the big guns, which in this case, was a full consumer credit report. This isn’t the same thing as a credit header report… It reveals much more information about the debtor, including credit history, any collections, and often employment information.

The consumer credit report revealed that Bennett was working at the local power plant. I called the plant’s Human Resource Department to make sure Mr. Bennett was still gainfully employed. Happily, he was still there. In which case I decided my best option was a wage garnishment. In my state, I am entitled to 25% of his paycheck.

To get it all started, I had the court issue a writ of execution. This is basically a document from the court that verifies facts about the case (how much the judgment is and when it was awarded, how much interest has accrued, who the parties are, etc.). It serves as my ‘permission’ from the court to garnish Bennett’s wages or to seize any other asset I can find. I completed and delivered all the paperwork for my garnishment and paid my filing and levying fees.

If you’re wondering about the costs I incurred in this case, they are as follows:

Credit Header Report:  $1.50
Bankruptcy Check:  $0.15
Consumer Credit Report: $15.00
Writ of Execution: $15.00
Wage Garnishment Fee: $25.00

TOTAL:  $56.65

My wage garnishment went off without a hitch. Every time Bennett was paid by his employer, I was also mailed a check for 25% of his disposable income. Because I was receiving checks every week (and these tend to pile up when you have 15 or 20 garnishments from different cases going at one time), I opted to send Mr. Campbell, the original judgment holder, quarterly payments – simply to avoid any unnecessary bookkeeping gymnastics.

At this point, I could have invested a little more elbow grease to locate Mr. Bennett’s bank account and taken that too, but steady payments from garnishments are a great source of residual income. Now that I had that going, it was pretty much on auto-pilot, so I could free up my time and attention for other cases.

Next week I’ll send the second installment of this series; a case study involving an individual person that sued a company, and the details that led to that particular happy ending.

As usual, I welcome any comments or questions.

Warm Regards,


Christina Smiley
Sierra Judgment Recovery
SJR Strategic Research

Please note: I am not an attorney, nor do I aspire to be one. If you need legal advice, please consult qualified legal counsel.

Let’s Talk About Income

MONEY: Dough. Moolah. Bucks. Clams. Cheddar. Benjamins. Greenbacks.

I’d like to start by stating the obvious: you wouldn’t be interested in judgment recovery if you weren’t looking for a way to make money, or improve your quality of life – that much is clear. But if you’re looking for some kind of pie in the sky promise of riches and an elevation to lifestyles of the rich and famous overnight, I’m sorry to inform you that this isn’t it.

A judgment recovery business is most definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme and I will never promise that you’ll be wealthy overnight. I’m not going to try to lure you with any false expectations, or by posing in front of my mansion and sports car and promising this will be you in two weeks. If you’re looking for easy money, you should probably look somewhere else, and I sincerely hope you find it.

So let’s be reasonable. The truth is that any legitimate business requires hard work, research, expense and plain old elbow grease. Judgment recovery is no exception. But if you’re willing to invest the time and effort, a judgment recovery business can provide a decent and sustainable income of about $80,000 a year, for a very low cost investment.

In this newsletter I’ve outlined some examples and scenarios to explain how money is earned with a judgment recovery business, so you can have a better idea about what kind of income you’ll generate and how that happens.

While there are hundreds of ways to collect a judgment, there are just two basic ways to take assignment of them. Both methods transfer all right, title and interest from the judgment holder to the assignee (you). That’s important because it allows you to collect the judgment on your own behalf (an article for another day). It’s also worth noting that
judgments accrue simple interest from day one, which means two to three years down the road they are worth significantly more than they were when first awarded.

The first method is to purchase the judgment with the agreement that you’ll make payment when – or if – the judgment is collected, paying half of what you’ve collected minus any expenses.

Example 1:

  • A judgment was awarded two years ago for $5,257.00.
  • The judgment holder assigns the judgment to you for enforcement.
  • With a post-judgment interest rate of 10%, the judgment is now worth $6,209.84.
  • You will collect the judgment, keeping 50% of what you are able to collect.
  • Your income for a few hours’ worth of work is $3,154.92.

This is by far the most commonly used assignment method in our industry. If you are unable to collect the judgment, you’re not on the hook for anything other than your time and some minor expense you incurred in an attempt to locate assets. Further, there’s no ‘expiration date’ on an assignment. You can continue to check back every few months to see if anything has changed with the debtor’s financial situation. You can also record a judgment lien so that if the debtor owns property, or acquires it in the future, your judgment lien will have to be paid before a clear title can be achieved.

The second commonly used method is to purchase the judgment outright, paying the judgment holder $0.05 to $0.10 on the dollar up front. The obvious benefit to this is that your potential profit is much higher than it would be if you were just keeping half of what you collect. The only drawback is that you could end up throwing good money after bad, unless you prescreen the case before purchase and only opt for those cases where you know assets are sufficient enough to satisfy the judgment.

Example 2:

  • A judgment was awarded five years ago for $4,194.00.
  • Because you have determined that the debtor has significant assets, you purchase the judgment outright for $335.52 ($0.08 on the dollar).
  • With a post-judgment interest rate of 10%, the judgment is now worth $6,292.15.
  • You will collect the judgment, keeping 100% of what you collect.
  • Your income for a few hours’ worth of work is $5,956.63.

Now that I’ve covered the basic types of agreements, let’s talk about some enforcement scenarios. But before I do that, it’s time for a reality check. I think you’ll agree that the first method described is the easiest way to start making money with a minimal investment of time and cost, however, be aware that these are judgments. In most
circumstances you’re only going to be able to find assets and actually collect about 45% – 50% of these judgments. It’s nothing to freak out about – it’s just the nature of the type of debt we’re collecting – but it has to figure in to your expectations to keep them realistic.

Moving forward, there are more scenarios for collecting than there are fish in the sea, or any combination of them to ultimately get the job done – but here are some common ones, so that you’ll get an idea about how you actually get from Point A to Point B.

Wage Garnishment:
In most states (but not all) you can garnish a judgment debtor’s wages. The law typically allows you to intercept 25% of the disposable income, to be submitted by the employer every time the debtor gets paid. The employer receives a court order to withhold the money each pay period and turn it over to the court or levying officer, who in turn sends it to you. This results in basically maintenance free residual income.

Voluntary Payment:
Much the same as a garnishment in regard to residual income, however, a debtor submits payments voluntarily and these payments are not routed through the court.

Seizure of Bank Account:
The court will act on your direction to seize funds in checking, savings or even mutual fund accounts. Anything in the account(s) at the time the bank is notified must be frozen and then turned over to the court or levying officer, who in turn will send it to

As the judgment creditor, you have the authority to accept a settlement in lieu of collecting the full judgment amount. This is very useful as a means of working with judgment debtors – particularly commercial/business debtors – toward a reasonable solution everyone can live with. You can even structure settlements that are half money and half barter for goods or services – or all barter. The sky’s the limit here.

As I wrote earlier, a judgment lien attaches to property and clouds the title until the judgment is paid.

While you would be completely within legal boundaries by foreclosing on property to satisfy a judgment, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this route just to satisfy a measly $5,000 debt (that’s pretty cold-hearted). But if you’re talking about a judgment against a
business for a couple hundred thousand, then by all means, this might be the way to go!

I could go on with these scenarios all day, but there are just too many of them. Some other potential assets include business income or equipment, rental income, annuities,
automobiles, recreational vehicles, boats, planes – I even know a gal who seized and sold a buffalo! I’m confident that you can clearly see how and why an income of $80,000 a year is average for one person operating full time. Anyway, the idea is to give you some grasp of how and where the income generates from, since I really am asked this question pretty often.

As always, if there are any topics or subjects you’d like to see discussed in the newsletter, please feel free to Contact Us and let me know. To get started today earning $80,000 a year today, click here to Join SJR.

Warm Regards,


Sierra Judgment Recovery

12 Totally Free Online Business Tools

Did you know that you can get anything from customer websites to business plans without having to dish out a single penny? These days, with the contribution of so many programmers, techies and just plain generous Internet users, there are more valuable open source tools and applications available to us than ever before.

By ‘open source’ I’m referring to software applications whose original programming source code has been made freely available to anyone who wants to redistribute or modify the program or application.

The result is: totally rockin’ software applications that anyone can use for absolutely no cost whatsoever. This is stuff that I used to shell out hundreds of dollars for, and in many cases they function better than those old programs anyway.

There are literally thousands of these apps online for the taking, but I have wheedled out twelve of them that I think are worthy contributions to anyone trying to keep expenses to a minimum while starting or operating a business.

1. Open Office
Apache OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

Score is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and helping entrepreneurs with over 13,000 volunteers and 370 offices around the US. SCORE also has a section on its website with free templates and tools. This treasure trove includes business plan forms, financial templates, contract samples/templates and more. You can even ask a question to a local volunteer mentor right through the website.

3. Dropbox
Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, documents and videos anywhere and easily share them. Store and sync files and documents on different devices and computers. No more hunting and searching for stuff on the cell phone, laptop, desktop or tablet. Plop your training materials into Dropbox and now you can access it anywhere. Same goes for important contracts. What a total time saver.

4. Design a Website: Weebly
Weebly is an easy-to-use online tool lets you pick a website template from about 150 choices and add photos and text using drag-and-drop tools. You can also add a full e-commerce portal, photo galleries, and slide shows, and register your domain right on Weebly.com. The result? A polished, professional site that’s up and running in a day, if not hours. Cost: Free for a basic site, then starting at $3 a month for a custom URL and advanced features.

5. Dashlane
If you’re like me, you diligently strive to “be safe” and use different passwords on different sites across the internet. However, the downside to this “safe behavior” is that I can never remember any of my darn passwords. I would spend hours each week hitting “Forgot your password?”, waiting for my new password, getting re-authenticated, only to do the whole rigamarole over again the next week. Dashlane to the rescue. With one master password, Dashlane covers you across the internet — airline frequent flyer numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, addresses, pin codes. Never forget an online password again. Brilliant.

6. PaperRater
We all know how important it is to put our best foot forward when communicating with existing or potential customers. PaperRater offers a free in-depth online grammar and spelling check. Just cut and paste your letter, email or other communication into the checker and PaperRater allows you to find those pesky mistakes and correct them before sending out important correspondence.

ZOHO offers free productivity, collaboration and business applications. A centralized collection of tons of free spreadsheets, presentation tools, management software and much, much more.  There is even a new section of apps for your small business needs.  Everything you could possibly need for operating a more productive business.

8. Wave Accounting
Wave Accounting is a completely free app that helps you manage your business finances from any place you can get online. For an entrepreneur or freelancer, it also allows you to separate and track your personal finances, too, so you can handle all of your financial management from one location. You’ll find invoices, expense tracking, reports, and more. It has its limits, of course. It doesn’t track timesheets and some of the other features you’ll find in a paid app, but for those getting started or with a small business, it might be the perfect choice for you.

9. Jax Works
JaxWorks has hundreds of Excel spreadsheets available on their site for downloading at no cost to you. These free offerings cover a number of financial, accounting and sales functions at all skill levels.  Browse the selections and save any number of these for future reference. The free downloads are available for Windows Excel, Apple Macintosh Excel and Apple iWorks Numbers.

10. FormNet
Use this free business forms download service available on Entrepreneur.com. Save yourself time and expense by using these free business form templates and documents available in Microsoft Word, Excel or Adobe pdf. Categories include accounting, credit and collections, insurance, inventory, human resources, leasing, marketing, management, sales, shipping and starting your own small business. No more creating documents from scratch!

11. LinkedIn
These days I can’t imagine building a business without LinkedIn. I had a LinkedIn profile for years before I realized what an incredibly valuable networking tool it was. It’s free, and if you’re consistent about inviting and networking with new connections, within no time at all you will have access to a truly diverse network of people. I am still surprised by how many people do not have a LinkedIn profile. If you want to be taken seriously in your business, you need to set one up.

12. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA offers several free tools and resources, including online training webinars and videos for everything from how to write a business plan to how to qualify for government contracts. Apply for loans, grants and government contracts.

So there you have it – enough loot to make you feel like you’ve discovered buried treasure. “But wait…” you may ask, “What about the Mack Daddy of them all – Google?”

Excellent question. Google still offers one of the best collections of business tools around. A veritable Swiss Army Knife for the digital age Google is a startup’s best friend. Google hooks you up with a toolbox in and of itself between Drive, Documents,
Spreadsheets, Hangouts, Search, Chat, Calendar and (of course) Gmail. A decade ago, this suite would cost a small business hundreds if not thousands of dollars. As of 12/6/12 it’s no longer free, but it’s still a great value at $5/month, and it rocks.

You can store, share, and collaborate on documents using Google Drive, a cloud-based system accessible on the Web and a variety of mobile devices, including the iPad, iPhone, and Android phones and tablets. And if you’re still paying for email, you probably shouldn’t be on the internet, but if you have a business, your email address needs to end with @YOURDOMAIN.com. Using Gmail, Yahoo, or other services can look unprofessional and hurt your credibility. Google Apps solves all of that.

Those are my top picks, but if you spend a little time poking around I’m sure you’ll come up with some other free gems. As always, I welcome your questions or comments. If there are any topics you’d like to see discussed on this blog, please let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige!

If it’s been awhile since you’ve explored judgment recovery, and you’d like to read through the free Start Up Guide again, you can download it by clicking on the ‘Free Judgment Recovery Start Up Guide’ link below. If you have any trouble with the download, just contact me and I’ll send it to you manually.

Kind Regards,

Christina Smiley

PS: If you’re ready to get started with your judgment recovery business today click here: Join SJR

Sierra Judgment Recovery
Professional Judgment Recovery Training

SJR Home
Judgment Recovery Training
Free Judgment Recovery Start Up Guide

The Power of Positive Thinking

Thoughts are funny things… We’ve all had days where it feels like everything is just going wrong. We think, “Why me?” and, “What did I do to deserve this?” or, “Good grief! What else could possibly happen?” And the more we let ourselves feel like a victim, the faster things seem to spiral out of control. We tend to spend all our energy focusing on the negative. But think about this: wouldn’t it serve us better to wade through all that garbage and find just one nugget of good to focus on?

When we focus on the positive things in our lives, we will ultimately attract and invite more positive influence. I’ve experienced this first-hand.

True story: When I was a struggling young mother of three small children, I came to a point in my life where my income wasn’t enough to pay my bills. It seemed like the harder I worked, the less time I had to focus on things that really mattered – like my family and friends – but most particularly I had no time to figure out how to make things better. I was spiraling the drain – both financially and spiritually.

It was a vicious cycle. Less money, more bills, more stress, work more hours, have less time to spend doing the things that make us happy… and the misery just went on and on. At the time my husband and I were running a carpet store. When we lost the store I thought my world was over. Little did I know that it was just the beginning of this crazy wonderful journey I’m still on today – because that’s exactly when I started my judgment recovery business.

The funny thing is, looking back now I can see how impossible it would have been to start the new business if I was still wrapped up in the carpet store. It practically hit me over the head! Had I still been so completely obsessed chasing my tail on the hamster wheel, I’d never have taken the time to seriously consider something else.

Instead of mourning the loss of the store and feeling like I failed, I became excited about starting something new.  Instead of giving in to fear and panic, I embraced the potential for new possibilities. Once I did that it seemed like everything miraculously started falling in place. I had recognized that when one door closes, three more open. All I had to do was walk through.

I’m sure everyone has a story they can relate this to. Maybe you lost your job, or your hours got cut back? Perhaps your retirement income didn’t turn out to be the golden goose egg you thought it would be. It could be that your life or career was derailed by other unanticipated circumstances out of your control… The silver lining in any of those discouraging events is that now you’ll have time to explore other possibilities where before you didn’t have time for a spare breath.

Some things happen at just the right time. They seem bad, but really they can be doorways to something better. Something you would never have considered unless you were forced by some other circumstance to look for other answers. Sometimes those answers literally just land on your head.

Even with the busiest of schedules, anyone can find time to set aside to focus on making things better, if they really want to. We find time to exercise, watch TV, shop and spend time on FaceBook… Why not invest a little of that time toward finding a way to make a positive change in your life? Skip a television show – there’s an hour. Spend a little mental energy on how you can create change in your life when you’re walking the dog; running the errands; watching the kids at baseball practice.

What’s stopping YOU?

Kind Regards,


Are you ready to get started with a judgment recovery business? Click here: Join SJR

Sierra Judgment Recovery
Professional Judgment Recovery Training

SJR Home
Judgment Recovery Training
Free Judgment Recovery Start Up Guide

5 Steps: From Daydreaming to Starting a Business

As a self-confessed opportunity junkie, I’ve spent countless hours daydreaming about new business ideas. Most of the time an idea only takes hold long enough for me to think how wonderful it would be if I could (“insert random idea of the day”)… Sometimes though, an idea actually gets some glue and I’ll spend even more time envisioning how to turn the dream into reality. I’m sure we’ve all done that, but actually navigating an idea from your imagination to the real world can be a daunting task to even consider.

I heard an old rock ‘n roll song the other day that inspired me to write about this topic. It was one of those songs that I sing along to, without really thinking about the words. The Eagles said it so eloquently: “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains – and we never even know we have the key.” Personally, the “key” for me was to get off my butt, stop daydreaming and GET MOVING.

Here are some suggestions to help you get your own head out of the clouds:

1. Make an Official Road Map. Obviously, you already know where point “A” is. Point “A” is that idea rattling around in your brain looking for a way to see the light of day. This is true whether it’s your own original idea, or someone else’s business model that you’re considering for yourself. Now think about where you ultimately want to go on this entrepreneurial expedition. There will be several required points of interest along the way, and you may not even realize where all the pit stops are going to be, but recording your idea in writing is a great way to map out a plan of action. It will be your compass and provide you with a logical sequence of steps to get you where you want to go.

2. K.I.S.S. If you’re not familiar with that acronym, it means Keep It Simple Stupid (umm… not that I’m implying that you’re stupid – but you get the idea). Don’t obsess over making every little aspect of your business perfect, because at this point it’s impossible to even know what that should be. Focus instead on how you can make your primary product or service desirable to your customer – the rest can be fine-tuned later. Remember that nothing is set in stone. At this stage of the process (or any stage, for that matter) you can always change what doesn’t work, or tweak what does.

3. Use the tools in your toolbox. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to invest money in brand new equipment, especially if you already have the tools to get the job done. Too often I see people get caught up in the mindset that they must squirrel away a ton of money to purchase brand new computers, printers and other office equipment. Or worse – those who think they must give wads of cash to hungry web designers for flashy, expensive websites. To keep your costs low, think about using what you already have and save your hard-earned resources for legitimate start-up necessities. The bells and whistles will come down the road.

4. Take the First Step. When starting a business (or even a major project) one reason it’s so difficult to get started is because there are just so many tasks demanding your attention. It can be positively overwhelming when the whole enchilada is staring you in the face. But I’ll tell you this – nothing will happen unless you take the first step. Splash some hot sauce on that son-of-a-gun and take a bite. For Pete’s sake, just pick something simple, like identifying who your target market will be. That should be easy enough, and you’ll feel terrific for taking action toward making something actually happen. Overcome your analysis paralysis… When you begin to take those initial steps, pretty soon you’ll gain some momentum.

5. Get the word out. Talk about your new business and let people know you’re starting. Nothing gets your engine revving faster than talking about a new business with friends, family and other acquaintances. Not only will it make your new business more of a reality for you, but it also invites questions and answers from others that offer invaluable marketing insights. In fact, when I started my judgment recovery business, talking about it with others is exactly how I landed several of my first assignments. I swear – people were throwing the stuff at me. And then would you just look at that… I was started.

What’s stopping you?

Warm Regards,

Are you ready to get started with a judgment recovery business? Click here: Join SJR

Sierra Judgment Recovery
Professional Judgment Recovery Training

SJR Home
Judgment Recovery Training
Free Judgment Recovery Start Up Guide

9 Free Online Public Record Resources

These days, nearly anything you want or need to know can be found online through public records research. While these records have always been made available to the public, with the evolution of the Internet we can now simply log on to a website to conduct research that used to take hours and hours of legwork.

Now admit it – you’ve probably tried to find someone online before… perhaps an old friend or a lost relative (hopefully you’re not stalking – because I would NEVER condone that). Usually what happens is some website pops up telling you that you can “Click Here” to find out everything you want to know about your subject. For a fee.

Don’t get suckered into paying a fee! Why pay for information that you can get free of charge, if you know where to look? Here are just some of the resources at your disposal that don’t cost a dime.

1. Business Records

To look up information about a corporation, an LLC, or other business entity, most states offer searches through the Secretary of State’s Office. You can find out what the business structure is, the status (active, suspended or dissolved), the name and address of the registered agent for service of process, the name of the primary officer(s) and the address of the business. Many databases will also show any UCC liens filed against the company. For sole proprietorships or standard partnerships (DBA – or “Doing Business As”) try searching in a specific county. These records are typically maintained by the County Clerk.

2. Court Records

Many states offer online access to all manner of court records. Civil cases, traffic records (even parking tickets), family court records and bankruptcy filings are all public record. Some states offer statewide access, while others only offer access in specific counties. Bankruptcy filings are searchable through US District courts.

3. Criminal Records, Inmates and Arrest Warrants

If you’ve ever wondered or worried if someone has a criminal record, is in jail, is a registered sex offender or has outstanding warrants – there are many databases that allow you to investigate this for yourself. Most of these databases are state specific and searchable either by county or statewide. Federal inmates are searchable through the Federal Bureau of Prisons. You can also search databases to find immigration detainees and interstate probationers and parolees.

4. Property Records

Property records are searchable by the county the property is located in. You can usually conduct a search by the owner’s name or the property address. Information about properties will typically include current and previous owners, real estate transactions, the assessed value of the property, the parcel number and any existing liens on the property. These records are made available through the county tax assessor and/or the county recorder’s office.

5. Professional Licenses

There are hundreds of professions and occupations which require licensing through the state. Among these are accountants, doctors, barbers and cosmetologists, child care providers, auto repair facilities, pharmacists, nurses, contractors – and many, many more. You can search for information about a person or company through the states’ Department of Consumer Affairs or State Licensing Board.

6. Voter Registrations

Voter registration records can help you to identify the whereabouts of anyone who routinely votes. You can even search to identify federal campaign contributors. Some counties keep independent voter registration databases, but most states keep these records through the Secretary of State. If you’re starting to feel a little paranoid – don’t worry! These databases typically only give the voter’s polling place – not the voter’s home address.

7. Death Records

Death records are tracked by the Social Security Administration’s death index, although some counties will offer records specific to a certain county, which are maintained by the county coroner. There are even databases listing deceased persons who are ‘unclaimed’ for whom a next of kin could not be found, as well as those that list cold case homicides.

8. Aviation Records

If the subject of your search is a pilot, or owns an aircraft, you can use the Federal Aviation Administration’s database to search by the owner or pilot’s name or aircraft “N” number.

9. Other Federal Records

FDIC Bank Locator; Active Duty Military Personnel; Ham Radio licenses; Banks Mega Search (information on active/extinct banks due to merger, acquisition, name change or failure); Cults; Federal employees; Interstate truckers/companies; IRS recognized charities; Nursing homes; Unclaimed/lost US savings bonds.

Okay, so that’s a lot of information, and it’s really just the tip of the iceberg! You could spend hours searching for all of these independently, but I recommend using a public records “portal,” such as Black Book Online. It’s FREE. Remember, if a site wants you to pay for this information – click away.

Happy researching!


Are you ready to get started with a judgment recovery business? Click here: Join SJR

Sierra Judgment Recovery
Professional Judgment Recovery Training

SJR Home
Judgment Recovery Training
Free Judgment Recovery Start Up Guide

Skip Tracing Online: 7 Basic Steps

When I actually started writing this final installment of the Skip Tracing Series, it soon became apparent that there is – by far – too much material to cover in a blog post. This is the “meaty” part, and it quickly went from being a 10 ounce New York Strip to a hefty 5 pound hunk of steaming beef. That being the case, I made an effort to whittle it down to methods using free online resources to conduct a simple skip trace. Still, I apologize in advance for the length of the article.

To re-cap, you should by now understand what a ‘skip trace’ is, as well as how to build a profile of your subject. If you missed those earlier articles, you’ll find them here: www.recoverycourse.com/blog.

When trying to find most targets, these basic techniques will locate the average person 90% of the time. By ‘average person’ I mean someone who isn’t necessarily trying to remain unfound. For those who are intentionally hiding, it can sometimes be a bit more complicated.

If I were actually discussing the hard-core skip tracing methods used to locate a judgment debtor who doesn’t want to be found, these techniques would be much more in-depth, and involve a number of private information sources (like credit reports and banking detail reports). Even so, the following steps are still used as a jumping-off point when enforcing judgments to locate the basic whereabouts of the judgment debtor… and they are absolutely free.

At the start, you’ll want to begin with the most obvious way to locate your target, moving progressively forward using more involved processes. Be forewarned however, sometimes following a lead can be just like Alice chasing the White Rabbit down a hole into Wonderland… Don’t be afraid to follow, but try to keep your head.

Basic Skip Tracing Steps

Diving right in – these are the basic (and sometimes obvious) methods used to locate your subject. These methods should be used in conjunction with the profile you’ve already assembled, and remember to fill in or update any of the information about your subject in your worksheet as you go along.

Step 1 – Build a Profile

As discussed in my previous article, your profile should be completed with as much information about your subject as possible. Now it’s time to get busy filling in some of the blanks.

Step 2 – Is your subject living?

I know it’s a little morbid, but this is the first step to take in any skip trace. You can determine whether or not your target is still alive using the Social Security Death Records database (or SSDI). While you would think that you should be able to access the index from the Social Security Administration’s website, you cannot – though you will find free access here: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3693

Since search results include the date of birth, city and state of last residence and the state the social security number was issued in, this should be enough to identify whether or not it pertains to your subject.

Step 3 – Telephone Directories

This is obvious – I’m aware – but not to be overlooked. It only takes a couple of minutes to search using online directories. Be sure to search multiple areas and states, if your profile includes that information – such as places where your subject previously lived or may have moved to. Admittedly, with the introduction of the cell phone revolution, many people no longer subscribe to a ‘land line,’ but it’s still worth a shot – you might get lucky, or you might find a relative.

While there are literally thousands of online telephone directories, here are some of the more popular ones:

AnyWho: www.anywho.com
AT&T Directory Assistance: www.corp.att.com/directory/
SuperPages: www.superpages.com
SwitchBoard: www.switchboard.com
White Pages: www.whitepages.com
Yahoo! People Search: people.yahoo.com

Step 4 – Internet Search Engines

There’s a reason it’s called the ‘Information Age.’ Any and all information ever recorded or archived about you on a website is likely to be found online. If that doesn’t make you a little nervous, it should. In capable hands, the Internet can reveal all manner of statistical and personal data about you.

My husband is more than a little paranoid about posting anything online – and for good reason.  Posts you’ve made in discussion groups; reviews you’ve provided online; resumes posted to job or career sites; ads on Craig’s List; newspaper articles; PTA
meeting minutes – it’s all out there.

I’ll refer specifically to Google here, but generally the same principals apply to other search engines like Bing and Yahoo!. If Google is not the largest conglomeration of websites and information on the Internet, then it’s close. I always start here.

To get the most out of this search tool, you need to be aware of what’s in the toolbox… I’m sure there is not one person among you that hasn’t at some time searched for something on Google, but I’m wondering how many of you have used the Advanced Search feature? After you perform a basic search, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see the link for ‘Advanced Search.’

Like most search engines, Google’s queries are based on ‘Boolean logic’ (if you’re not sure what that is, you can Google it). The Advanced Search feature lets you enter data into a form that makes it easier to narrow down the focus of your search to a defined set of parameters. You can specify a search for specific words or phrases, and exclude others.

Other nifty tools that Google provides are separate search engines for different types of information. Assuming you’re using a reasonably current web browser, you’ll find several links displayed in a menu across the top of the Google’s search page. You can search specifically in the ‘Images’ section for snapshots of your subject that may be displayed on other websites. By clicking on that image, you’ll be taken to the website where the image is originally displayed. You can also use the ‘YouTube’ search engine, which has become very popular.

Step 5 – Social Websites

Lately there are more social sites cropping up than I can (or care to) keep up with. By ‘social sites’ I’m referring to websites like MySpace, FaceBook, etc., where people have made an astonishing amount of information about themselves available to anyone who’d care to ‘Friend’ them. I’ll use FaceBook as our example.

You can conduct a simple search for anyone you wish on FaceBook, but unless you have a ‘page’ of your own, you’re not going to be able to see very much in your results – so if you don’t have one, get one. It’s a fairly simple process to set up, and you can set your ‘Profile’ to private so others can’t snoop.

Once you have created your own page (make sure you’re logged in before searching) your search results will return information about anyone you search for by name – that’s pretty basic stuff. You can also search by name and city or state. What you may not know is that if you search with a subject’s email address you will have a much better chance of positively identifying your subject. You would think that most people post a picture of themselves for a profile, but you’ll soon learn that puppies, kittens, caricatures and photos of other people are just as common – so a valid email address is a better way to search, if you have it.

If you aren’t able to locate your subject’s ‘page,’ try looking for a page belonging to a relative or friend of your subject. If you scroll through other people’s ‘Friend’ list (if their profile is not set to ‘Private’) you just may find your subject, or another lead to your subject. I especially look for ‘Happy Birthday’ posts in a person’s history, since most people tend to chime in around that time.

I feel an ethical responsibility to note that when enforcing a judgment or other debt, it is in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to mislead (or lie) about your intentions when communicating with debtors, so it would be a big no-no to pose as someone else to gain information about a judgment debtor you’re trying to collect from (even on FaceBook). Neither am I condoning any of this information to ever be used for stalking purposes.

Step 6 – Professional Websites:

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is another great online source for skip tracing, particularly if you have a rough idea about where your subject may be located and previous professions, careers or employers. Because this is a site designed for interaction between certain types of professionals, it is also likely to be reasonably up to date. Similar to LinkedIn are Plaxo (www.plaxo.com) and Ecademy (ecademy.com).

Another place to look is CorporationWiki (www.corporationwiki.com). A unique feature of this site is that the information is gathered from sources like Dun and Bradstreet and the Secretary of States’ corporate filings. If your subject owns a business, the information is likely catalogued here. Even if they don’t own the business, often if they are a manager or primary officer of a business or company, you’ll find their information here.

Step 7 – Other Online Resources

Still hitting a wall? Here are some other online resources that may provide what you’re looking for:

WordPress and other blogging (web log) sites. Google even provides a search engine specifically for blogs.

Alumni or Reunion sites. If you know where your subject went to high school or college, you may be able to find information about them from a site like Reunions.com or Classmates.com. Remember, if you know who else may have gone to school with your subject – you can look for them too.

Public records are becoming more and more available online. Many states and/or counties simply don’t have the manpower to attend to manual requests for records, so they’ve simply made the information available on the Internet. There are many sites that may charge a fee for this information, but don’t be fooled – much of it can be found free if you go directly to the source. A good starting point would be a public records portal, like SearchSystems.net (http://publicrecords.searchsystems.net/) or BRBpub.com (http://www.brbpub.com/free-public-records/).

Don’t overlook court records – including civil, criminal divorce, bankruptcy and traffic violation records. Many states offer access to these databases online.

Inmate locaters, where available, can be an excellent tool if your subject has dropped off the grid. For state inmates try InmatesPlus (www.inmatesplus.com). For Federal prison inmates try the Bureau of Prisons website (www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp).

Black Book Online has an excellent U.S. Active Duty Military locator (www.blackbookonline.info), as well as many other public record resources.

Genealogy record sites, like RootsWeb (www.rootsweb.ancestry.com) or Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com) have put a great deal of effort into keeping track of the family trees of millions of ancestors.

At the End of the Road?

Make certain that while conducting your searches you’ve used any and all possible variations of your subject’s name or aliases like a maiden name or nick name – that goes for possible friends or relatives of your subject too. If you still haven’t managed to locate your subject after exhausting all of these skip tracing methods, it may be that your subject has gone to great lengths not to be found. If that’s the case, then it’s time to break out the big guns. By that I’m referring to private records, like consumer credit
reports and other sources of fee-based data that the general public doesn’t have access to. You won’t be able to gain access to it, either, unless you have a legitimate and legal purpose for doing so, such as a civil judgment, litigation, licensed private investigation, or other debt collection purpose. If you still decide to pursue it, you may want to consider paying a professional to handle it for you.

As always, I welcome your questions or comments. You can email me directly, or feel free to post a reply in the comments section. If there are any topics you’d like to see discussed on this blog, please let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige!

For more information about the professional judgment recovery training my company provides, please use the link above, or the one below in my signature line to visit my website.

Warm Regards,


Christina Smiley
Sierra Judgment Recovery