How to Collect a Court Judgment

DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney. Before taking any creative and covert collection action, check with your attorney or the court where your judgment was awarded.

So, you sued that deadbeat publisher in small claims court and you won. Congratulations! After the satisfaction of winning settles in, you start to wonder when he’s finally going to pay you. You do some research and discover there’s still really no way to force him to send you a check. The court *might* take specific steps to get information about his assets but there are still no guarantees that you’ll get your money. You will be ultimately responsible for getting the information the court needs to get your judgment, like bank account numbers, information on personal property that can be confiscated, employer information for wage garnishment, etc. As a last resort, you can have a lien put on his property…but then you’ll only get paid if/when he sells that property someday.

There are lots of ways to attempt to get your money that you may not even know about. The book How to Collect When You Win a Lawsuit provides some advice. At some point during the collection process, you’re going to learn that you can levy the money in the creditor’s bank account. However, getting that bank account number can be a bit tricky…or perhaps not?

One anonymous reader let us know about a judgment they won against a firm for copyright infringement. The judgment was quite large (the infringement had gone on for a long time) and the defendant in the case was eluding payment. A friend of the victim wrote a small check to the defendant’s company (perhaps for a subscription or a sample copy) and it was deposited. Once the check was returned to the “customer’s” bank, they were able to read the bank name and account number on the back of the check. While they didn’t get the entire amount of the judgment, they did get all the cash the defendant had in that account.

More creative ideas are provided in this article:
16 Legal Ways to Find a Bank Account Number

Different states have different collection processes. Search for the words “How to Collect a Judgment”, along with your state’s name, in your favorite search engine. The court where you won your judgment will also likely have a pamphlet or information posted online about how you can legally collect the money owed to you.

If the deadbeat has assets or cash, you can find this information quite easily if you know what to look for. Don’t give up just because the deadbeat has crawled deeper into his hole. You deserve your money. He doesn’t.

Angela Hoy is the co-owner of and BookLocker. is the free marketing emag for writers that features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is one of the top-rated POD publishers in the industry.