Florida Collection Agencies Have Limitations
In previous articles, we have been discussing why collection agencies may not be the best alternative when your company is trying to collect an account receivable. A collection agency is not licensed to practice law and cannot give your company legal advice about debt collection in Florida. Many Florida collection agencies retain our Florida debt collection law firm once traditional collection practices employed by a Florida collection agency have been exhausted.
A Florida Collection Agency Cannot Practice Law
There are basic steps every Collection Attorney should undertake when representing a judgment creditor in order to assess the likelihood of recovering from a judgment debtor. In addition, a Florida Attorney undertaking to collect on a Judgment should be versed in the various rights and remedies that are available to Judgment creditors afforded by Florida Law, that when used correctly, may lead to recovery of money towards satisfaction of the Judgment.
Below are steps that a collection attorney should perform when analyzing a collection matter and making an assessment as to the viability of collection:
- Speak to the creditor client to determine if the client has any knowledge if the Judgment debtors may be associated with any business entities and officers, directors, partners, members. This information is useful as Florida law permits a charging lien to be issued and served on an entity against a Judgment debtor’s interest in an entity.
- Perform their own search of the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations to see if the Judgment debtor is listed as an officer or managing member or partner in any business.
- Use public record search programs made available to collection attorneys such as Accurint or Lexisnexis to get a broad profile on the debtor including, but not limited to, addresses the debtor has lived at, corporations the debtor was and/or is an officer, properties that are and/or were owned by the debtor, automobiles that were and/or are owned by the debtor.
- Try and ascertain a place of employment
- Ask the client about their knowledge of what assets the debtor may own that may satisfy the judgment, including, but not limited to household furnishings, automobiles, jewelry and/or other personal property of value
- Ask the client if they have copies of any checks from the debtor or know where the debtor does bank to possibly attempt garnishment.
- Ascertain if a Judgment Lien was recorded with the Division of Corporations. If not advise the Client of the effect of filing a Judgment Lien and discuss whether it would be prudent to file a Judgment Lien even if it is decided by the client they do not want to spend any more time or money pursuing collection of the Judgment.
Florida Debt Collection Agency
Florida Collection Agencies Hire Our Collection Law Firm
Once an analysis of the information is obtained from the non-inclusive list above, a discussion with the client should be undertaken explaining possible costs involved, strategies that can be put in place to attempt collection and a reasonable timeline provided as to how post judgment collection proceedings may play out depending on how a debtor may or may not respond to post judgment collection efforts.
Once it is decided that the client wishes to proceed with collection efforts below are several, non-inclusive steps, that an attorney may utilize to attempt collection
- Writ of Execution
- Writ of Garnishment
- Pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.560 obtain Post Judgment Discovery in Aid of Execution, including, a Fact Information Sheet directed to the debtor ( Pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.977), and/or any other form of discovery including request for documents, interrogatories and/or depositions of the debtor or third parties.
- Commence proceedings supplementary pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 56.29
Feel free to contact our Florida debt collection law firm. We will discuss how we differ from Florida collection agencies. A Florida collection agency can only provide limited debt collection services in Florida.
Florida Collection Agency Directory
Florida Collection Agencies
Our collection law firm was recently contacted by a Florida collection agency to assist in attempting collection of a commercial collection case. We have been writing many articles setting forth the difference between Florida commercial collection agencies and Florida collection law firms. A Florida collection agency cannot practice law. The collection case forwarded to our collection lawyer involved fraudulent transfer of funds. A Florida commercial collection agency may have some debt collectors familiar with the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act but, cannot legally file a lawsuit. Florida collection agencies must send their cases that need to be litigated to a Florida collection attorney.
Florida Collection Attorney Gebeloff
We accept many cases from Florida commercial collection agencies simply because traditional collection methods have not procured payment. Many commercial credit managers are realizing that it makes sense to consider simply forwarding their past due account receivables to a debt collection law firm rather than a Florida commercial collection agency. Notwithstanding not having to pay a higher contingent collection rate to Florida commercial collection agencies, the credit managers realize the limitations of a Florida collection agency.
If you call our Florida debt collection law firm one of our collection lawyers will discuss your debt collection matter with you. There are some instances in which forwarding your case to a Florida commercial collection may make sense. When you have a high volume of small balance claims for collection a Florida debt collection agency may be a good alternative.
If litigation is required a Florida collection agency will not be able to litigate the case. The case would have to be sent to a Florida debt collection lawyer. We support Florida commercial collection agencies but, savvy commercial credit managers already know that it more cost effective to send the case directly to a Florida debt collection law firm. It should also be considered that if litigation is required, if you forward a case to Florida collection agencies first, there will be a delay in that once the Florida collection agency determines it cannot collect it must then send the debt collection case to a Florida collection attorney.
Using a Florida Collection Agency or Florida Collection Agencies
Florida collection agencies continue to collect debt in Florida. A collection agency in Florida needs to register with the State of Florida to have a collection agency license. A Florida collection agency may be a good fit for company that has a high volume of low balance claims for collection that are too small to justify filing a debt collection law suit. Florida collection agencies typically send our collection letters and then use debt collectors to make debt collection phone calls from their Florida collection agency office.
Even though a Florida collection agency may hold a license to collect debt in Florida, there really is no oversight over the Florida collection agencies over what tactics they may employ or how effective they may be at collecting debt in Florida. More credit managers are recognizing that they no longer need to place their debt collection claims with Florida collection agencies. A Florida debt collection law firm offers the same services as a Florida collection agency. However, what is important to recognize is that Florida collection agencies do not hold a license to practice law.
Florida Debt Collection Agency
If a Florida collection agency want to suggest that a collection case needs to go to an attorney, the Florida collection agencies have to outsource the collection matter to a Florida collection attorney. The end result is the Florida collection agency has to charge you a higher contingent fee as the Florida collection agencies now have to act as a middle man and will charge a premium on top of what the Florida collection law firm charges.
Our Florida collection lawyers will be happy to discuss the difference between Florida collection agencies and Florida collection law firms. In some instances utilizing a Florida collection agency may be a good option. However, in most cases using a Florida debt collection law firm will prove to get better results as the debtor recognizes that using a Florida collection law firm over a Florida collection agency means that your company intends to use the Florida courts to help your company recover its money.
Debt Collection Policies
Having debt collection policies in place will assist a debt collection attorney when you need to hire a debt collection law firm to collect your money
Keeping copies of your customer’s checks can be very helpful to 0ur debt collection law firm after judgment is obtained. Our collection attorneys will ask our clients after a judgment is obtained if they have any information to assist our debt collection law firm garnish or attach assets. Sometimes a debtor is unaware that once a judgment is obtained a debt collection attorney can issue a writ of garnishment and serve the writ on a bank. Our debt collection law firm has found that many times the debtor is using the same bank account and may have some or all of the funds in the account necessary to satisfy the judgment.
Guide to Internal Collection Procedures
When setting up a credit and collection policy for your company your employees should be mindful that one day your customer may stop paying their invoices and your company may have to engage a collection attorney to help your company collect your money. Our debt collection law firm has been assisting companies with their debt collection policies and procedure. Some companies have credit applications but, surprisingly a lot of our clients learn the hard way once one of their customers stops paying. Having a credit application helps our collection attorneys not only find post judgment assets but, gives our collection lawyers a better chance of locating the principals of a debtor corporation in the event your customer closes its doors. Our debt collection law firm will also suggest adding an attorney fee provision to the credit application, if there is not already one in place. Without that provision, in some states, you will not be able to recover the fees paid to your collection attorney from your customer.
Our debt collection law firm uses all information available to it to determine if there is a possible successor company that may be liable for the debt. Our debt collection lawyers will also explore the possibility that there may be personal liability of an officer for transferring assets. We invite you to call our debt collection law firm to speak to one of debt collection attorneys about your credit and collection policies. Our collection lawyers will be happy to make suggestions to help tighten up the credit application so in the event it becomes necessary to start a lawsuit to recover your money, the chances for successfully recovering your company’s money will be increased
Post Judgment Collection
What Can Our Debt Collection Attorneys Do to Collect Your Money After Judgment
After Judgment is obtained and the debtor does not voluntarily make a payment to satisfy the judgment, there are several options to consider. If you know where the debtor has assets, writs can be issued by the Court giving the Sheriff to seize assets to satisfy or partially satisfy the Judgment. We often ask our clients to keep copies of checks of all payments they may receive from their customers. There may come the day when the customer becomes a debtor and knowing where the debtor banks may lead to successful garnishment of funds in the debtor’s bank to satisfy the judgment.
Judgment collection law firm
If you are uncertain about where the debtor may have assets, the Court allows creditors to conduct post judgment discovery. You have the option of taking the debtor’s deposition or of sending post judgment interrogatories to the debtor. If the debtor fails to respond to post judgment discovery, the Court can assist the creditor in getting the debtor to comply. The debtor must turn over financial information to the creditor. Failure to do so may lead to the Court holding one of the officers of the judgment debtor entity or an individual judgment debtor in contempt of Court.
Our firm will also use post judgment discovery to determine if money has been fraudulently transferred to a third party or to another entity that may be owned by the either the individual judgment debtor or corporate judgment debtor in an effort to conceal assets from creditors. If so, we can explore the possibility of naming these third parties in a lawsuit as defendants alleging fraudulent transfer
Taking the Debt Collection Case to Trial with a Collection Attorney
If the collection case has gone as far as trial, it is important to be prepared to provide the proper witnesses and be able to produce key pieces of evidence to prove your case. In collection cases to it is important to provide the witness who can testify that they are familiar with company’s books and records and that those records are usually kept in their custody and control. In other words, the sales representative for your company typically is not charged with the financial aspects of the company and someone who ordinarily would track the books and records of the company. Courts adhere to rules of evidence and may not allow a sales representative to testify as to the account statement or invoices. It is important that you speak with the collection attorney in advance to make sure your company will be able to produce the proper personnel at trial. If not, you may wish to discuss the possibility of settling your collection case prior to the court date.
Collection Attorney Stephen B. Gebeloff
It is important to tell your collection attorney about third parties who may have knowledge about the case. Those parties may be subpoenaed to appear for deposition prior to trial to ascertain their knowledge about the case and or to provide relevant documents. If necessary these same parties may be subpoenaed to appear at trial to testify.
Besides witnesses, it is important to provide your collection lawyer with all the documents surrounding the case, including, but not limited to, contracts, statements, invoices, emails or any other documentation from any third party or the debtor relating to the case. Working with your collection attorney, together you will decide which documents will be offered to the court as evidence.
During the collection trial both your company and the debtor will be able to offer witnesses and other evidence for the court to consider. After all the evidence has been presented the Court will make a decision. If all goes well a Judgment will be awarded to your company. Unfortunately, obtaining a judgment does not obligate a debtor to pay the judgment. However, using a collection law firm to enforce the judgment will be the best way to ensure that if there are assets available to satisfy the judgment either through the debtor’s voluntary payment(s) or seizing assets using writs of execution your company will recover some or all of the Judgment.
Collection Attorney to
“Collecting Account Receivables”
“Don’t Let Your Company’s Money Burn”
When you are busy running your small business, worrying about collecting on past due accounts is the last thing you want. Cash flow is vital to the success of any small business. Having an effective plan in place on how to manage your account receivables is vital. The Gebeloff Law Group will soon be releasing a free e-book to assist credit managers and small business owners implement a plan to better manage their accounts. The book will be titled “Collecting Account Receivables – Don’t Let Your Company’s Money Burn.”
Gebeloff E-Book will assist your company collect more of its outstanding debt
When in house collection methods are not working, there are choices to be made. Debt can simply be written off or the debt can be sent to a commercial collection agency or a commercial debt collection law firm. In the e-book collection attorney Stephen Gebeloff will discuss the difference between collection agencies and collection attorneys. Sometimes sending your accounts to a collection agency may make sense but, after reading the book on debt collection procedures and strategies, you may come to recognize that utilizing a full service commercial collection law firm may prove more cost effective and lead to a higher percentage of your delinquent debt accounts being recovered.
The Gebeloff Law Group is a full service debt collection firm. Our collection lawyers would be happy to discuss your company’s internal debt collection procedures. Being proactive is very important in maximizing your company’s recovery of past due accounts. Not every account is collectable but, by discussing your company’s debt collection needs, our collection lawyers can effectively work with you to explore different collection strategies that may lead to the recovery of your company’s money.
We encourage you to contact our commercial collection law firm to discuss your specific debt collection needs with one of experienced debt collection lawyers.
COMMERCIAL COLLECTION LAW FIRM
Our Florida collection attorneys will assist your company collect past due commercial accounts
Florida collection agencies have been collecting commercial debt in Florida for many years. When your company choices to engage a Florida collection agency it has become apparent that your customer who is located in Florida has stopped paying invoices in a timely fashion. Florida collection agencies typically hire debt collectors to make collection calls from their Florida collection agency. Florida collection agencies then will send a series of collection letters to the debtor located in Florida.
Florida Collection Attorney Gebeloff
Our Florida commercial debt collection law firm has been receiving debt collection cases from Florida commercial collection agencies when the Florida collection agency has been unsuccessful in collecting on the past due date. In that instance the Florida commercial collection agencies are obliged to increase the contingent collection rate that they charge so that they may then forward the debt collection matter to our Florida commercial debt collection law firm for further handling. Florida collection agencies are not licensed to practice law.
Our Florida commercial collection law firm just like a Florida collection agency will send our collection letters and place collection calls. The huge difference is the customer is now receiving a collection letter from a Florida collection attorney. Collection phone calls are made by a Florida debt collection law firm. There is a greater sense of urgency for your customer to make payment to your company when demand for payment is coming from a Commercial Collection firm rather than a Florida collection agency. Lastly, there is no middleman. Our firm will charge a flat contingent fee on collection. Again Florida collection agencies raise your company’s contingent collection rate upon collection when they forward the claim to a debt collection lawyer.
Please contact our Florida debt collection law firm and speak to one of our debt collection professionals. We would be happy to discuss a debt collection strategy that is best suited to help your company recover money that is justly owed.
Debt Collection Lawsuit
Collection Attorneys Litigate Debt Collection Cases
When a debt collection law suit is filed your customer now knows this is their final chance to make payment arrangements. There are no guarantees that your company will get paid. However, the clock is now ticking for your customer. Our debt collection law firm calls your customer a debtor. Going forward we will refer to your customer as a debtor and we are pretty sure by the time you have had to sue your customer, you are also calling the customer a debtor. There are several scenarios that may play out when a law suit is filed and we will discuss those below.
After a law suit is filed a summons is issued and either a private process server or a sheriff attempts to serve the debtor. If the debtor is served, the debtor has a certain amount of days to file a responsive pleading to the law suit. If the debtor does not respond, a default is entered by the clerk of court. After default is entered you typically be able to submit your proof of the debt to the court and request that a default judgment be entered against the debtor for the amount of the debt. The court typically will allow you to recover prejudgment interest and your court filing fees. Your reasonable legal fees will be allowed in some states only if there is a written contract or statute that allows for attorneys’ fees. Some states do not have this requirement and will also allow you to add attorneys’ fees to the judgment.
Collection Law Firm
If the debtor is a corporation or limited liability company most states will not allow the debtor to represent itself. The fact that the debtor has to retain an attorney adds pressure on the debtor to settle with your company before spending money on an attorney to defend a lawsuit for payment on a debt that is justly owed to your company. If the issue for not paying is the debtor’s cash flow, our debt recovery law firm has found that this is the time that the debtor will finally come forward with a repayment plan. Some debtors look to negotiate and will offer a percentage of the debt in a lump sum payment, other debtor will offer to pay the debt off in installments. Our clients our in the driver’s seat and can make a business decision on what payment arrangement they would be willing to accept or even to accept a payment arrangement at all. What is important for our clients to understand is that sometimes it’s best to allow for a payment plan as the debtor will voluntarily pay money. Payment plans are typically reduced to writing and filed with the court. If a debtor misses a payment, our client would be entitled to enter judgment for the full amount sought in the complaint, less any previous payments made and paid on the account by the debtor.
If the debtor does retain an attorney it may be the debtor has multiple creditors and is trying to stay afloat by filing an answer to the complaint and delaying the inevitable entry of judgment down the road and then work out a payment plan at a later date. Other times, the debtor may have some legitimate reason for not pay some or all of the money our client claims is due. At this point in time, the claim becomes contested and like all other civil litigation cases discovery may be warranted. Each side has the right to conduct discovery, propound interrogatories, and request to produce documents and/or take depositions. The case most likely will be scheduled for mediation prior to trial. Mediation is the time in the case where the parties can set their own course and take the decision making out of the hands of the judge and jury. We encourage our clients to keep an open mind at mediation and strive to reach an amicable resolution to their debt collection case. If the case is not resolved at mediation, the case will proceed to trial.