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Finding a Debtor's Assets

Sometimes the person who wins a judgment (the creditor) simply has no information about the losing party’s (the debtor) money or property. Without that information collecting the judgment can be a challenge. If that is your situation, know measures can be taken to help you.

Information subpoena

You can use an information subpoena to find a judgment debtor's assets. You can use the pre-printed questions on the subpoena or write your own questions. The Small Claims Court Clerk may provide you an information subpoena for a small fee, you can also find this on the internet for free. NY Information subpoena.

The information subpoena must be signed by the Small Claims Court Clerk. After the form is signed, make copies for yourself and send the subpoena, two copies of the written questions and a self-addressed envelope with the correct postage attached (by regular mail or certified mail, return receipt requested) to the Judgment Debtor and anyone else you think may know about the judgment debtor's assets, such as: an employer or any banks where you know the Judgment Debtor keeps an account.

Find the Debtor’s bank

If you have a canceled check from the Defendant, the back of that check should indicate the name and address of the bank where the Judgment Debtor keeps an account. With this information, the enforcement officer can seize the money in the account and use it to satisfy your judgment.

Find out if the Debtor has a car

You can check with the New York Department of Motor Vehicles and find out whether the Judgment Debtor owns a car. If so, the enforcement officer can take the car and sell it to pay you your money. You must be able to tell the enforcement officer the model, year, license plate number and location of the car. Also be aware that if the Judgment Debtor borrowed money to buy the car, that loan must be repaid from the sale before you can get any money.

Find out if the Debtor owns land

Similarly, if the Judgment Debtor owns real estate, it can be sold to pay your judgment. Ask the Small Claims Court Clerk for a transcript of judgment and then file it with the County Clerk in the county where the judgment debtor owns property. You can then ask the enforcement officer to sell the property to pay the judgment. Again, be aware that if the enforcement officer sells the property you will receive your payment from the proceeds only if there is any money left over after the enforcement officer’s fees and expenses are paid, any mortgage on the property is paid, all taxes are paid and previous debts the Judgment Debtor owes are satisfied.

Business license

If the claim you filed is about the Judgment Debtor’s licensed or certified business, and if the debt has been unpaid for 35 days or more, you can contact the state or local licensing agency. The licensing agency then can revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew the business license.

Suspend the Judgment Debtor’s driver’s license

If the claim you filed in Small Claims Court was based on the Judgment Debtor's ownership or operation of a car and if the judgment is $1,000 or more and has been unpaid for more than 15 days, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend the Judgment Debtor’s driver’s license and car registration until the Judgment is paid. For more information speak to the Small Claims Court Clerk.

If you can’t find anything

If you can’t find anything yourself, you can hire an asset search company that you pay to search for the debtor’s property. You can find them on the internet.

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