5 Myths About Judgment Recovery

I spend a good bit of every day answering questions about the judgment recovery business. Truth be told, the majority of those who take the time to write to me are pretty skeptical – and who can blame them? Aren’t there a million other ‘opportunities’ – many of them scams – flooding the Internet these days? How can you know who to trust, especially when it costs next to nothing for the ‘expert’ to market their product?

I honestly don’t mind answering those questions – I would much rather hear from someone if they have doubts, so at least I have a chance to personally address them.

Following are some of the concerns I find myself responding to most often.

Myth #1: Starting a judgment recovery business will cost a ton of money.

Fact: Costs to start and operate a judgment recovery business are surprisingly low. Chances are, you already have all the essential equipment you need to get going (computer and printer). Other very basic expenses will include a phone line dedicated for business use, a generic business license, a post office box and a locking file cabinet or desk drawer.

As for ongoing business operation costs, you’ll need information to help you find the debtor’s job, bank account and other assets (credit reports, banking detail information, etc. at $11-$12 per case), and court filing fees – approximately $35-$50 to seize any assets you find through the court system.

By comparison, consider that the average franchise requires thousands of dollars in investment capital. For example, a Subway restaurant will cost $12,500 cash just for the name, plus an additional investment ranging from $92,050 to $222,800 – and that’s just to get the door open. You’d need to rent or buy a storefront, hire and train employees, buy or lease equipment and inventory, and purchase advertising just for starters. Talk
about sticker shock!

Myth #2: I will have to harass the debtor to make him or her pay.

Fact: The assumption that you’ll need to become some sort of a finger-breaking thug to collect judgments is a little silly. Actually, you’ll have very little – if any – direct contact with the person who owes the debt at all. You’ll be using strictly non-confrontational, behind-the-scenes methods to collect these judgments. There’s simply no need to make harassing phone calls or send scary letters. Everything you do to enforce the judgment can and will be carried out through the court system by filing paperwork.

Myth #3: I’ll have to be some sort of legal genius to make this work.

Fact: No legal background is required in order for you to be profitable in a judgment recovery business. In fact, no background of any kind is necessary. Most of our current members didn’t have any sort of legal or collections experience when they began, either. I certainly kept this in mind when the course materials were written. I’ve trained truck drivers, soccer moms, retirees – you name it!

Don’t get me wrong – you’ll still need to do some research into procedures in your state, but the concepts and general rules are all pretty consistent throughout the US. These procedures are covered in step-by-step detail in the training materials. I’ll also provide you with the SJR State-By-State Civil Research Guide that includes specific information about the laws and codes that govern the enforcement of judgments in each state.

Myth #4: There is new “legislation” which makes collecting judgments very difficult.

Fact: Ah… the Internet rumor mill. If it’s written there, it must be true, right? Sorry, but it’s just wrong.

There hasn’t been any recent legislation passed or pending in any state that I am aware of that would affect your ability to successfully operate a judgment recovery business, or any new laws that would make enforcing judgments more difficult.

In fact, the opposite is true. In a few states, there is actually pending legislation that will make it easier to collect civil judgments. Most particularly, in some states where wage garnishments have never been permitted, there is pending legislation that will now make it possible.

Myth #5: Only attorneys can collect a judgment that was awarded to someone else.

Fact: Here is one, simple truth: Anyone who owns a judgment – or owns the rights to a judgment – can use the court system to collect. There is no court in the land that legally requires a judgment creditor to retain or use an attorney to collect a civil judgment.

Further, when all rights to a civil judgment are properly and legally assigned to another person, that person becomes the judgment creditor and owner of the judgment. This is all governed by civil statute in all 50 states.

I hope this helps to ease your mind about these important concerns. I know that if some people are asking about these issues, many more must also be wondering about the same thing. As always, I encourage you to contact me if you have questions of your own. Or if you would like to see any specific topics covered in more detail.

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.

12 thoughts on “5 Myths About Judgment Recovery

  1. Christina, are there any states in particular which are under-served by judgment recovery businesses? I’m considering relocation from Los Angeles.

    • Hi Steve,

      There really aren’t any states that are less in need of judgment recovery services than any other. It may sound self-serving to say so, but honestly there are so many unsatisfied judgments in every state, that one really doesn’t stand out over any other.



  2. How do I get paid ?
    What is the cost of your program ?
    How much can I expect to get paid annually ?

    • Hi Michael,

      I’ve responded to your questions:

      >>How do I get paid ?

      Once a judgment is assigned to you, you become the legal judgment creditor and the one who initiates and proceedings through the court to enforce the judgment. Any monies collected through those proceedings will be turned over directly to you. You, in turn, will reimburse yourself for any expenses you’ve incurred, and split the remainder with the original judgment holder.

      >>What is the cost of your program ?

      There are currently two versions of the judgment recovery training program available. The traditional written version of the program is $185 + $9.95 shipping and handling. I also have a new electronic downloadable version of the program available for $155.

      >>How much can I expect to get paid annually ?

      See my reply to Bryant, just prior to my reply to your comment.



      Both versions of the program have the same content, and include letters, contracts and forms templates, the Bookmark Skiptracing Guide, my State By State Civil Research Guide, access to the Member’s Website and Discussion Forum, and ongoing support for as long as you need it. For more details about pricing, please visit the following page of my website: http://www.recoverycourse.com/pricing.html

  3. Christina-thanks for your post…realistically, what kind of income potential is there with this business?

    • Hi Bryant,

      I want to say right up front that a judgment recovery business is definitely NOT a get rich quick scheme. Your income will directly reflect the amount of time and effort you devote to your new business.

      You should be able to earn some income in as little as 2 1/2 – 3 months, but it takes at least that much time to get the ball rolling. You’ll have to contact judgment holders, obtain signatures on assignments, locate the debtors and their assets and initiate the court procedures to enforce the judgments. The research per case typically requires 2-3 hours and it will take the court about 30 days to carry out any procedures you initiate and issue payment to you.

      $7,000 – $8,000 a month is an average full time income, while some who are more aggressive are earning in upwards of $10,000/month and more. These figures are taken from others who are operating their judgment recovery businesses successfully. Most people can earn at least $2,500 a month on a part time basis if they are willing to dedicate 10-15 hours a week to judgment recovery.

      To put it into perspective, if you were to send 100 solicitation letters to individual judgment holders, you’d likely end up with 30 to 35 judgments to collect. That’s a lot! Also keep in mind that out of those 30-35, you’ll probably only be able to actually collect 50%-60% of those judgments (this is just the nature of collections). This means you’d end up collecting 15-17 cases.

      Just to give an idea about what sort of income that generates, figure on the average case being right around $1500. Further, you’d be collecting those on a 50% contingency, keeping half of what you collect. That works out to be around $12,000 in gross income that you keep for yourself (ie: 15 X $1,500 = $22,500; 50% is $11,250.00).



  4. Hi Christina,
    In the process of enforcing a judgement, could I as the assignee place a lein on someones real estate property?

    • Hi Marcia,

      Once the judgment has been assigned, you (as the assignee) would have the same rights and remedies at your disposal to enforce the judgment that the original judgment holder had. So, the short answer to your question is yes.



  5. Is there anywhere in your program that shows you how to pay your taxes to uncle sam? I know that each state has different laws, but you can’t keep all of that money to yourself.

    • Hi Cee,

      Although tax issues are definitely NOT my greatest strength (we religiously take everything to a CPA!) I can give you a basic ‘run-down.’ Any income that you receive, after expenses and business write-offs are deducted will be, of course, taxable income. Any expense you incur for business, including what you disburse to the judgment holder out of what you collect for them, is typically considered a write-off and is deducted from your gross income.

      NOLO Press has recently published “Home Business Tax Deductions” written by Stephen Fishman. I recommend reading this book for more information.



    • Hi Christi,

      All businesses require licensing for local taxation purposes, but Texas does not require any special licensing – like a collection agency license, or private investigative license. This is because once the judgment is assigned to you, the ownership is transferred from the original judgment holder to you – and you become the new owner and judgment creditor. Most states do not require any special licensing in order for you to enforce a judgment on your own behalf.

      I wrote a blog article on this topic not long ago. If you’d like to read it, you’ll find it here: http://recoverycourse.com/blog/?p=74

      I hope that helps!