Starting a Business

A Collect Calling

How can I start a judicial recovery business?
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the October 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Question: I've received some information on processing judicial judgments from home. Are these companies and their training legitimate? How difficult is this business to start and operate? How competitive is it? Is it lucrative?
Mark Shelly
Valencia, California

Answer: The fundamental work of a judgment recovery specialist is collecting money-doing the paperwork and legwork to seize bank accounts, garnish wages and place liens on or seize personal property. That's in addition to locating debtors who have moved, sometimes to escape paying off debts. And you have to personally contact debtors about paying the judgment you're handling. Sometimes a letter and a phone call produce results-some debtors, when vigorously pursued, will join the million-plus people and businesses filing bankruptcy each year.

We suggest you do three things:

1. Go to local courthouses and ask the court clerks for their assessments;

2. Use search engines like, and to learn from others what the problems are and how they're solved, what the rates are, and what people in the industry discuss. Many companies offer training manuals, and there are member associations you can join;

3. Talk with people in the business-find them using the Yellow Pages or engines like

Charge a percentage-usually 30 to 50 percent-of what you collect as a fee to your clients. Collecting judgments is hard work, so how well one does in a collections-type business depends on effort and persuasive skill.

Another option is to buy a business opportunity. If the vendor won't give you other buyers' names, or those you contact don't seem to be doing the work, consider that a warning. Check out the company with your local state regulatory office, the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Response Center at (877) FTC-HELP or if it asks you to spend more than $150 or so for business opportunity manuals. In-depth research is always a good idea when buying a business opportunity.

Small-business experts Paul and Sarah Edwards' latest book is The Practical Dreamer's Handbook(Tarcher/Putnam Publishing Group). If you have a question regarding a start-up business issue, contact them at or send it in care of Entrepreneur.

More from Entrepreneur

David provides constructive insight to help businesses focus on their company growth, build brand awareness and know when and how to raise money.
Book Your Session

In as little as seven months, the Entrepreneur Authors program will turn your ideas and expertise into a professionally presented book.
Apply Now

Are paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.
Get Your Quote Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.