WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CREDIT REPORTS
One helpful technique to get paid is to make sure your judgment is listed on your debtor’s credit report. But what most plaintiffs don’t know is that this is not automatically done after they win their judgment. Bottom line, unless there is a researcher that works for the major credit bureaus and goes into the Courts and abstracts cases or the Court docket is online and the data is scraped by database companies, odds are your judgment will never show up on the debtor’s credit report.
So how do you find out either way? The easiest way is to simply ask the Court Clerk if they know. Do they see abstractors coming in every week or so and going through files (they may not know what they’re doing, but they know who the regulars are camping out with notebook computers and going through files)?
In the old days, the best way to ensure the judgment was listed was to simply fax or mail in copies of the judgments to the major credit bureaus. We have found that with the advent of researchers and data scraping the credit bureaus no longer support ‘send-ins’.
What they aren’t telling you is that this information is most likely coming from data collection from the public recorders offices, and not court records. So if your judgment hasn’t been publically recorded, it’s not going to get found and reported. This is a major flaw in their data collection system.
The second flaw in this system is if your judgment dates back to before the credit bureau started getting pro-active and collecting the data. They generally don’t go back and get older information, they just start collecting data and move forward. So if they started their data collecting in 2005 and your judgment was still unpaid from 2004, it’s never going to show up.
So we come to…
RULE #1: ALWAYS RECORD AN ABSTRACT OF THE JUDGMENT AT THE COUNTY RECORDER’S OFFICE – ALWAYS.
Another thing you need to know is that judgments only remain on the debtor’s personal credit reports for seven years from the date filed. So it’s up to you to remember to keep your judgment in the system.
RULE #2: EVERY SEVEN YEARS, GET AN UPDATED ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT (WITH UPDATED STATUTORY INTEREST) AND RECORD IT AT THE COUNTY RECORDER’S OFFICE.
The idea is if you get in front of the system, and stay there, you have the best chance of using it for your advantage!
Also remember that Rule #1 and #2 should also be done in every county that the recording can have an impact on a debtor: where they live, where their parents live (for catching Probate disbursements), where they have real estate or business interests, etc.
The recording cost is a small investment to help recover your debt and it can have a long-term impact, especially if the debt is too small to warrant any sizable investment at that time. In fact, this strategy worked recently on a 20-year-old (1994) $905.00 judgment. Because the case was so small and the debtor so deeply in debt at the time, we recorded the judgment in 2011 in the county where the debtor lived, and waited. The judgment was picked by the Credit Bureaus and reported on the debtor’s credit report. Then, in July of 2014, we received a call from a title company when he was trying to refinance his home loan and needed to get it paid off. We found that the statutory interest had doubled the value of the judgment to $1,883.31, and the judgment was paid in full shortly thereafter.
Next week, in the the continuation of this article, Part 2 will discuss advanced techniques on how to read a credit report to find assets and bank accounts you didn’t know you could get. Meanwhile, start looking at cases where you should be recording Abstracts of Judgments. You just might get a phone call asking about paying off a debt.
Once in a while, we run into a debtor that has `creatively modified’ their Social Security Number. Data at SSNvalidator.com comes from Social Security Administration (SSA) records that are not restricted by the Privacy Act and other privacy laws. Neither this website nor search results are endorsed by the Social Security Administration. However, it is a quick way to verify if a SSN is valid.
A Social Security Number search at SSN Validator performs the
- Checks the SSA State of Issuance list to see what state the number was issued in if it was issued before June 25, 2011.
- Checks SSA records to see if the number has been issued as of June 25, 2011, the date of the SSA’s switch to Randomization.
- Checks the Social Security administration death masterfile of over 75 million death records to see if the SSN has been reported as belonging to a deceased person.
- Due to the SSA’s switch to “Randomization” on June 25, 2011, social security numbers issued after this date cannot be verified as having been issued or not.
Keep in mind that this tool will tell you if the SSN is valid but will not tell you if it matches the debtor by name. Your debtor might have given you the valid SSN of another person, such as their spouse or child. If
you would like to see what this website data looks like, jump on there and run your own Social Security Number.
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