(602) 241-8599 michael@mjfullerlaw.com

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(602) 241-8599

October 2017
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Collections

Collecting Debts

The firm’s principal attorney, Michael J. Fuller, is AV rated and has over 3 decades of experience practicing collection law and is recognized by other Arizona attorneys as the person to hire to get the job done. Mr. Fuller is passionate about his desire to help other people and feels blessed to be able to do so with the privilege of practicing law. Mr. Fuller is sincerely interested in each client’s matter and will work with each client to devise a cost effective way to accomplish the client’s goals. In these tough financial times, it’s time to get tough with the people who owe you money.

Common Collections Questions and Answers

Who needs the services of an attorney whose practice emphasizes the collection of debts?
It is very natural for someone to feel angry and cheated when he or she is owed money but the debtor refuses to pay. Collection issues commonly arise when:

a friend or relative borrows money from you;
you sell goods or services to a business associate;
someone takes your property without justification;
or a former spouse owes you money for child or spousal support or;
you have secured a judgment but the debtor still refuses to pay.
A court order or judgment is simply a judge’s declaration that someone owes you money. You are unable to take the order/judgment to a financial institution to convert the piece of paper into money you deserve.

While most attorneys have experience securing an order or a judgment from the court, very few lawyers focus their practice on actually accomplishing satisfaction of the court’s declaration. The firm is frequently retained by attorneys to collect judgments or delinquent child support/alimony awards for them or their clients. The firm prides itself in its role as the “lawyer’s attorney”, and works closely with attorneys to accomplish either their or their client’s objectives.

What is the cost to retain the firm?
When you schedule a free consultation with the firm, you will have the opportunity to discuss the specific facts and circumstances of your debtor to come up with a plan to separate the debtor from his wallet or his assets. The firm’s philosophy about attorney’s fees and costs is very simple: we do not want to take money from you if we cannot help you. The firm understands that you are already out the money owed by the debtor and you do not want to spend even more money chasing it.

We will promptly give you an honest assessment of your chances of success in order for you to evaluate whether you want to go forward. If you decide to retain the firm, you will only be responsible for out of pocket costs incurred which sum is predictable and is dependent on the strategies we devise for your case. Most of these expenses can ultimately be collected from the debtor. In some cases, the firm may advance these costs.

In most cases, the firm’s fee is calculated as a percentage of the money we collect for you (usually between 33.33% and 40%). In other words, you are not required to pay us a fee unless we are successful. What do you have to lose-the debtor is not going to send you a check anytime soon? It is always better to take a percentage of something than to never experience any justice for your financial loss.

What are the collection strategies the firm adopts when hired by a client or an attorney?
The two keys to success in a collection case are patience and persistence. You need to send a clear and unambiguous message to the debtor that you will not go away until you are paid in full. You want the debtor to think of you before he goes to bed at night and when he wakes up in the morning. Once you have broken the debtor’s will to fight, you know that you will be successful. Many times when the firm encounters a battle tested debtor, we target a weak link in the fence such as the debtor’s wife, friend, business associate or other person who is privy to his financial information.

The two most common methods used to actually gain possession of the debtor’s money or property are the wage and non earnings garnishment. With a wage garnishment, we serve the debtor’s employer with a writ of earnings garnishment. The garnishee is required to file an answer stating whether the debtor works for the garnishee. If the garnishee indicates in the answer that the debtor is owed compensation, we can apply for an order of continuing lien which will require the employer to remit 25% of the debtor’s net earnings to the firm.

With a non earnings garnishment, we serve a bank or other financial institution with a writ ordering the garnishee to withhold money or property in the possession of the garnishee belonging to the debtor. If the garnishee’s answer indicates that it has money or property of debtor, we will then apply for a judgment against the garnishee who then pays the judgment. Other strategies employed by the firm include but are not limited to setting a debtor exam, securing an order for the sheriff to sell real or personal property owned by the debtor and setting up a receivership to take over a debtor’s business.

How will I know the status of my case?
The firm recommends that all clients maintain an email address, and the firm will promptly email all pleadings filed by the firm or the opposing party to you. The firm will also email you any orders issued by the court concerning your case. You are also invited to call or email the firm at any time to discuss the status of your case. Finally, at the end of each month, the firm will mail you a check representing your share of the proceeds collected for that month less any attorney’s fees and costs owed. For clients who hire the firm to collect a volume of cases, the firm maintains an internet site where cases can be loaded and monitored.
Does the debt need to be in writing to be enforceable?
Some people may be deterred to going to an attorney to enforce a debt, because they have failed to have the debtor sign a contract or a promissory note. Even without such documentation, you may still be able to prove your claim by a cancelled check to the debtor, an email or letter from the debtor acknowledging the obligation or a partial payment from the debtor.You only have three years from the due date of the debt to bring your claim or it will be extinguished by the statute of limitations. Although an oral promise to pay is harder to prove in court, it is still enforceable.