As a Utah collection agency specializing in judgment collection, we have had our fair share of experiences tracking down and making contact with debtors who have failed to pay what they owe. If it were not for such debtors, we wouldn’t be in business. That aside, there are probably more reasons for why debtors don’t pay than we could discuss in a single blog post.
There is also the fact that we don’t know for sure, in any particular case, why a debtor doesn’t pay up. It helps us to have a good idea of what that reason might be, but short of the debtor being honest and explaining their reasoning, we can never really know beyond a shadow of doubt. We can always speculate, though.
In many cases, it is a matter of a debtor not agreeing with the judgment against them. Consider a rent dispute case. You might have a situation where a former tenant has been sued for unpaid rent. Despite losing the case, the tenant insists that he doesn’t really owe the debt because the landlord breached the lease agreement.
Many states give judgment debtors an opportunity to appeal prior to collection efforts commencing. But if an appeal is denied, that’s the end of it. A debtor is legally obligated to pay at that point.
There are those cases in which judgment debtors are being advised to not pay. The advice might come from an attorney, a coworker, or even a family member or close friend. When attorneys are involved, there is also the potential for assets being hidden. It is up to the creditor or its agent to uncover any such assets.
Advising a debtor to not pay could be a matter of trying to wait out the statute of limitations. On average, judgment creditors only have between 7 and 10 years to collect. Then they either need to renew or let the judgment expire.
Wrapping things up, we cannot discount the fact that some judgment debtors do not pay simply because they don’t want to. For whatever reason, they feel justified in avoiding paying at all costs. Perhaps it is a sport to some. Maybe they get their thrills playing cat-and mouse with creditors and collection agencies.
In any given case, we can only speculate as to why a judgment debtor is refusing to pay. If there are things we can pursue that could potentially change the debtor’s mind, we take a good look at them.
Collecting on an unpaid judgment is not an easy task. There are times when debtors are uncooperative. Understanding why a debtor will not pay can help creditors make better collection decisions but, in the end, what really matters is failing to collect. It’s definitely a position that creditors don’t want to be in.
Published September 12, 2023