Category Archives: Commerical Debt

Non Profit Organizations

One important thing that you should know when you are trying to collection a debt against a Non Profit Organization is that the principals behind a non profit organization are personally liable if you get a debt against the organization. That is one of the requirements of forming a non profit organization.

The principles agree to be personally liable for any liability of the organization. This dramatically different then a regular corporation or a limited liability company where personally liable is protect and is the main purpose of forming a corporate entity.

Sheriff Court Services

The Los Angeles Sheriff Office along with any other county like San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Orange County Sheriff Office all have a civil section to perform civil task like serving documents, levying bank accounts, placing keepers, move out keeper, garnishing wages and etc.

The Sheriff office also performs the same task that a attorney service can with regards to serving lawsuits and legal documents like subpoenas.

When it comes to doing bank levies, placing a keeper, wage garnishments, or a move out keeper, the Sheriff needs three things: a writ of execution (a court order giving them the right to execute on someone), instructions, and the requisite sheriff fees for the task at hand. Once those elements are satisfied, the Sheriff will personally served the bank levy instruction on the bank or business for a wage garnishment. They will personally appear at the location for a keeper or a move out keeper.

With a 8 hour keeper, they will place an off duty officer at a business. If a retail business is involved they will literally stand next to the cashier and take all monies coming into the business. With a move out keeper, they will come with a moving company and allow the moving company to seize all the assets of a location.

Answering Questions

If a court, government or law firm is levying money from your bank account, do they have to tell you first?

No, they do not. What generally happens is that they will obtain a Writ of Execution from the Court. With the Writ they will have the Sheriff’s office serve levy instructions on your bank. If you bank account exist at the institution that the levy is served upon then the bank will seize an amount that will satisfied the judgment and notify you.

That is the point that you will get notice of the bank levy. The bank then has 10 to 15 days to notify and to send the funds to the sheriff. Doing that time, it is your opportunity to figure out what is happening and ascertain if the bank levy was correct or not.

If they got the right party then the monies will be sent to the Sheriff’s office to send the money to your creditor.

Bank Levy

Here is what you need to do a bank levy:

The first thing that you need to have is a Judgment against the person that owes you money. The second thing you need is banking information on them. A cashed check or banking information listed in their credit application are areas to look. If they are a business consider buying something from them and see where they deposit the check. If you lack their banking information consider hiring an expert to get that information like a collection attorney or private investigator.

Once you have your judgment and banking information in hand, you need to file for a Writ of Execution, with the court, for the county that bank branch is located in. The filing fee for a Writ of Execution is $25.00. Once you get your Writ back from the court, you need to have the sheriff office serve your writ of execution and bank levy instruction on your debtor’s bank.

Its also a good idea to call their bank and ask if their bank account is still valid. The bank will not tell you if there is money in the bank account but they can verify if the bank account is still valid. They will save you some money if their bank account is closed.

If you levy the right bank and bank account, the debtor has 10 days after they are notify by the bank that their funds have been seized to satisfy your judgment, to do something about it (i.e., contact you to work something out or prove that it is not correct)…the bank will then release the funds to the sheriff office. The sheriff office will then issue you a check for the amount seized minus a small administrative fee for the government.

Keep in mind that you can only get what is in the bank account on the day that the bank is served by the sheriff’s office. So if your judgment is for $500.00 and there is only $200.00 in the account, then all you get is $200.00. You will have to pay the bank levy fee and have the sheriff office hit their bank account again to get the remainder.

You can also only recover your judgment amount. If your judgment is for $500.00 and there is $2,000.00 in their bank account, you only get your $500.00 plus the daily interested award by the court and your writ of execution fee. Nothing more.

I hope this gives you some guidance to do your own bank levy.

Company Credit Card Liability

With companies going under on a daily basis these days, a good question was presented: Can you be liable for charges that you put on the company credit card if the company goes under but doesn’t file for bankruptcy?

The answer is maybe. It all depends on the terms of the credit card agreement. Some agreement state that the credit card company must go after the company first before they look to you. Others give the company the right to go after the person using the card. Especially if the card was used to purchase something that you keep for yourself as opposed to being in the possession of the company.

Keep in mind that if you use the company card to purchase something for the company and pursuant to the company’s instruction and the credit card company goes after you, you can always sue your employer.

But that might not be the best thing if your company is going under anyways.

Book Account – Attorneys Fees

A successful party in an action on a book account may recover attorney fees limited to the lesser of $800 for book accounts maintained for consumer purposes, $1000 for commercial book accounts, or 25% of the principal obligations. In any event the fees awared must be the lesser of the amounts allowed under Section 1717.5(b), the amount of any default attorney fee schedule dopted by the court, or an amount otherwise provided by the court.

The amount collected for attorneys fee also cannot be split with the client. So it should not be considered as part of their recovery.


So you managed to get a Judgment against your debtor.  Or you won a money judgment against some one who you sued for whatever reason.  What do you do next?

Well you need to convert that judgment into money.  So how do you do that?  Well there are a wild variety of possibility depending on what you have or know about your debtor or defendant.  Is your debtor an individual or a corporate entity.

Our first focus will be on the individual.  If you have an individual debtor, you need to look through your files and see what type of personal information you have on him or her.  Ideally, you have their bank account.

If you have their bank account, you can ask the court to issue you a writ of execution and they send the writ along with your sheriff instruction to levy on the bank account.

If no banking information exist, do an asset search to see if they own any real property.  Then get an abstract judgment and record it in the county that their property resides in.  This will put a lien on their property.  The lien will last for 10 years and can be renewed.  The lien forces them to pay you off when they attempt to sell or refinance their mortgage.  Its an very effective way to get pay.

You can also consider doing a debtor examination.  A debtor examination involves subpeaning them to the court and asking them questions about their fiancial situation.

Debtor Represented By Attorney

Under federal law, a debt collector who knows that a debtor is represented by an attorney regarding the subject matter debt and has knowledge of or can readily ascertain the attorney’s name and address may not communicate with anyone other than that attorney unless the attorney fails to respond to the debt collector’s communication within a reasonable period of time.

Calling Debtors

You can legally try to collect past due bills by calling the debtor.  But you cannot legally call them on the phone over and over again.  It is also against the law to threaten them with harm or contact them at work after they tell you not to.  In addition, the law says that if they write to you and ask that you not contact them at all, you must stop.  At that point, you can only contact them to let them know that you are suing them.  So it is a good idea to keep records of your calls and written communications to them.

If the debt is not a commercial debt, you are not supposed to contact their employer, except to verify their employment.

You should never send anything that is meant to look like a legal document when it is not.

How Long Do You Have to Sue?

How long you have to file a lawsuit depends on what is called the Statue of Limitation that is applicable to your fact.  The Statute of limitation varies depending on the type of contract or claim at issue.

– Oral Contracts – you have two years.

– Written Contracts – you have four years.

– Common Count – The Statute of limitations for all common counts based on a writing is four years.  Without a writing, the statute is two years.

So what does that all mean?  It means that if you have a written contract with the debtor and they fail to pay then you have 4 years from the date they failed to pay to file your lawsuit.  If its an oral contract like, I will sell you 4 dozen apples and you pay me $100 by January 15, 2008, then you have two years from January 15, 2008 to file your lawsuit.

Lastly, what is a Common Count?  Well stay tune and we will address that question shortly.