Law Tips: Use Creativity & Search Tools in Discovering Assets

“Unfortunately, creditors are not always diligent in obtaining and retaining information on debtors. Ideally, claims would come with a completed credit application, banking information, social security numbers, federal tax identification numbers, and any other asset information available. This is often not the case and thus a large part of any collection practice is discovering assets.”

In the above statement, our Collections Law faculty member, Christine Hayes Hickey, relates to one segment of her experience in handling a volume collection practice. Her advice reminds fellow practitioners that when the usual post-judgment tools aren’t at your disposal “…creativity and utilizing available resources will assist in locating debtors and their assets.” Chris contributes her helpful list of search tools to assist in your successful discovery process. Take a look:

Business web site searches have always been a minefield of information, often revealing representative clients (asset garnishment), methods of payment (asset garnishment), new names or changes in ownership, and a whole host of other helpful information. With the explosion of social media, a new world of information-gathering now exists. Not only is there an abundance of public information available online and through paid searches, but debtors are surprisingly eager to share information on social media sites. While it is forbidden to obtain information under false pretenses or for a purpose other than one that is legally permissible, information that is public is fair game. Being mindful of permissible use restrictions in obtaining and sharing information, some helpful search tools and comprehensive reports include:

1. www.google.com, www.bing.com, www.yahoo.com

2. Lexis Comprehensive Reports:  www.lexis.com

3. Dun & Bradstreet reports

4. Pacer www.insb.uscourts.gov, www.innb.uscourts.gov

5. Online Recorder Information & Zillow www.zillow.com

6. Accurint www.accurint.com  (LexisNexis)

7. www.facebook.com, www.linkedin.com, www.twitter.com, www.myspace.com

8. Secretary of State and UCC Searches www.in.gov/sos/business

9. Public Records

a. www.searchsystems.net

b. www.brbpub.com/pubrecsites.asp

c. www.publicrecords.com  and www.craigball.com/hotlinks

10. Professional License searches www.in.gov

11. Federation of State Medical Boards www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html

12. Vital Statistics: Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce Records www.vitalrec.com

a. National Center for Health Statistics  www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm

b. United States Newspaper List  www.usnpl.com

13. Criminal Records www.in.gov/idoc

14. Odyssey  http://mycase.in.gov

15. Person locators

a. www.411.com  – in lieu of white pages

b. www.argali.com  – Argali White & Yellow

c. www.referenceusa.com  – through public library – free to those who have a library card

d. www.locateplus.com

16. Public Library www.imcpl.com  – the Marion County Public Library website has an extensive selection of on-line databases free to those with a library card.

17. Invisible Web www.inspire.net – a collection of databases that contain full-text of journals, newspapers and magazines.

18. To Retrieve Old Web Pages: Internet Archive WayBack Machine located at www.archive.org.  Type in the name of the website and a time line pops up. Click on any date to view the version of that website at that time.

In summing up her advice during ICLEF’s Collections: Tips for Going Green seminar, Ms. Hickey says:  “Successfully handling a volume collection practice requires the use of systems and procedures designed to manage volume, expedite file handling, and maximize efficiencies.” She elaborates on several aspects of her systems and procedures in Collections: Tips for Going Green, which is available via Video Replay or as a Online / On Demand Seminar, by Clicking Here.

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Our Law Tips faculty contributor:

Christine Hayes Hickey is the managing partner of the Indianapolis law firm Rubin & Levin, P.C., where she concentrates her practice in the areas of commercial litigation, commercial collections, and creditors’ rights. Chris currently serves on the Executive Council of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, the Indiana E-Filing Rules Committee, and serves as co-Chair of the IndyBar Review. She graduated in 1993 from the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, magna cum laude, and has been selected to the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women LawyersTM, Super Lawyers. She is the only female attorney certified in Indiana in the area of Creditor’s Rights by the American Board of Certification. Chris is a frequent speaker and author on collections and creditors’ rights topics.

About our Law Tips blogger:

Nancy Hurley, Law Tips blogger, has long-standing connections with Indiana lawyers. She was formerly a member of the ISBA and IBF staffs for over 30 years. Nancy’s latest lifestyle venture is with ICLEF. We are utilizing her exceptional writing and interviewing skills while exploring how her Indiana-lawyer background fits with ICLEF’s needs. When she isn’t ferreting out new topics for Law Tips, her work can be found in our Speaker Spotlight blogs, postings on the ICLEF Facebook and Twitter pages, and other places her legal experience lends itself.

Thank you for reading Law Tips. You may subscribe to this weekly blog through the RSS link at the top of this page.  Also, you are encouraged to comment below or email Nancy   She welcomes your input as she continues to sift through the treasure trove of knowledge of our CLE faculty to share with you on Law Tips.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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