maybe I should have gone to judge judy like my grandmother suggested...
July 9, 2009 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Looking to collection on a small claims court debt. Are there collection agencies or settlement advance places that work with smaller amounts?

I was scammed on a used car, turns out the old owner owed on it and it was repossessed. I've already filed in small claims court, but don't have high hopes of seeing the money from him, although I do think the odds are more than in my favor of winning. (and the lawyer in my family I hit up for not legally binding advice said as much)

Are there collection agencies that will deal in smaller amounts from individuals (as opposed to corporations), or those advance lawsuit settlement places? I know there will be a fee, but I'd rather deal with that than chase after this scumbag.

The total isn't a lot to some people, I'm sure, but for me it's substantial. I'm on unemployment, so it's almost fifteen percent of my annual income at the moment. I'd rather not just write it off as a bad debt.

Sorry if this was a duplicate. I did search, but all I could see were articles about the other side of collection agencies.
posted by Kellydamnit to Work & Money (4 answers total)
Response by poster: oh, and if it helps, I'm in NY and the total amount is $2600.
posted by Kellydamnit at 2:26 PM on July 9, 2009

Go through with the small claims, as it appears you have not gotten a judgement yet. Once you win your case, you can take the judgement to your local Civil Enforcement agency, who will then help you sell the loser's assets until the money acquired reaches your judgement amount. This is loosely based on Google and California, so YMMV, but NY appears to be similiar. IANAL, etc.
posted by rhizome at 3:23 PM on July 9, 2009

Check out the Buffalo Small Claims Court Guide if you haven't already (assuming this is in Buffalo). There's a section towards the end on collections. Since you're unemployed, it's probably worth it to you to try to collect yourself rather than lose a good chunk of the money to a collection agency. You may be able to put a lien on his/her property or garnish a portion of wages to get paid.

Of course, if the person you're suing is broke, there's not much you can do.
posted by zachlipton at 4:17 PM on July 9, 2009

Response by poster: Normally I would agree that chasing after this guy is worth my time. But, while I am on unemployment, three days after my court date I'm returning to school full time (thank you New York!). I'm taking a pretty heavy class load, and haven't set foot in a classroom in seven years, so I don't know how much of my time will be occupied with keeping up there and getting back in the swing of it. I also, due to his scam, have no car, which makes going to his house to get his plate numbers or the like tough.

From what I know about, say, having one of his cars siezed, it wouldn't be a good option for me. The money has to be paid out up front, and it's a couple hundred dollars. Given how small the amount I'm seeking is, I'd almost rather just get a lump sum, let someone else chase after this guy, and not have to worry about paying a fortune I don't have to have his stuff auctioned. (particularly when I suspect other people may be in line ahead of me to get paid back on debts, due to the number of lis pendens against his home at the moment)

In other words, I don't expect the collection agency to ever see a dime out of him, either, but I'd rather make it their problem than mine.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:40 PM on July 9, 2009

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