About Asset Search and Verification
Assets are items of value used to repay a debt. Although assets may range from tangible items such as a consumer’s house and the jewelry they wear, they are in immaterial form such as stocks and bonds. The most common types of assets that collectors inquire about include real property, bank accounts, and places of employment. Knowledge of a consumer’s specific assets creates an advantage for the collector and this knowledge can be a negotiation tool, depending on the status of the account. If there is no court-ordered judgment on file, then this information is valuable in the sense that it helps the collector provide a list to the borrower of possible sources available to pay off the debt. Internally, this information can help determine if the account is worth the time and expense of starting a lawsuit. Once there is a judgment, the creditor may apply for an order from the court allowing the seizure of certain assets used to pay the debt.
Real property consists of land and any permanent structures on it. If there is equity in the property, the owner may have the option to refinance their loan, or sell the property for a profit. Since real property can sometimes have equity worth thousands of dollars, this can be a viable source of enough income to pay or settle a debt. If a lien exists on the property because of a judgment, the debt must be satisfied before the title company will release the title. A consumer’s credit report, which most agencies have readily available for viewing by the collectors, will almost always indicate if a person has a mortgage, and whether or not that mortgage is current. Online databases offer information on specific properties. A states county tax assessor or the county recorder is a source of asset verification.
If a borrower has a bank account, it means they have the ability to set up post-dated payments, which are ideal because they help to prevent skipped monthly payments. Lenders and agencies may apply for an order from the court to levy bank accounts and seize a certain percentage of the available funds. Bank account information may appear on the credit application or by examining copies of payments previously made on the account.
Employment means a steady income, a portion of which available to repay debt. As with bank accounts, a judgment will allow the ability to garnish a portion of the borrower’s wages. There are numerous resources for determining a borrower’s place of employment. This information may exist on their credit report or credit application. Services such as The Work Number provide search capabilities for possible employment matches on a large number of accounts. Results are available in an easily accessible electronic format. Internet search engines can also sometimes be a source for locating employees. Once a probable employer has been located, the next step is to verify employment, commonly via the organization human resources or personnel department.
Other possible assets that are helpful to suggest during negotiations include funds received from the borrower’s tax return, 401K and IRA funds, stocks and other investments, and property such as cars, jewelry and household items that may be sold for cash. While not necessarily an asset, many consumers are able to borrow money from friends or family. If utilizing post-judgment remedies to collect on a debt, it is necessary to analyze the cost-effectiveness on an individual basis. Requesting the sheriff to seize personal property tends to be very expensive and often yields a return of items that are more valuable to the borrower than they are to the creditor. Bank levies and wage garnishments on the other hand, can be costly, but they have the potential to provide a large return.