The First Debt Collection Efforts of Creditors Before Bankruptcy

Minnesota Bankruptcy: The First Debt Collection Efforts of Creditors Before Bankruptcy

The first steps a creditor may take in trying to collect debt from you, if you haven’t already filed for bankruptcy and had the debt discharged, is to obtain a judgment against you.

Creditor Steps in Taking Legal Action

A judgment is an order by the court. A creditor may obtain a judgment that says that a debtor owes the creditor a certain amount of money.

After the creditor obtains a judgment, the creditor then dockets the judgment, attempts to find the debtor’s assets, and attach to them or garnish them.

There are many steps the creditor must take in order to learn of the debtor’s assets.

Before a creditor can obtain money through garnishment of wages or a bank account the creditor must give notice to the debtor that the creditor is seeking garnishment of wages or a bank account. The debtor has the opportunity to claim that the debtor’s wages or funds in a bank account are for some reason exempt from garnishment. A creditor who disagrees may seek a hearing before the court and challenge the debtor’s assertion.

Here is some insight into the first steps a creditor will have to take in order to begin the garnishment or attachment process:

Obtain a Judgment

The first step toward collecting a debt owed to a creditor by a debtor is obtaining a judgment against that debtor for the amount the creditor is seeking. A “judgment” is a final decision by a court. Once a creditor has a judgment from a court for a certain amount owed, the creditor can begin the process of collecting that amount.

Docket the Judgment

The creditor must docket the judgment. The court administrator or clerk’s office for the court in which the creditor received the judgment dockets the judgment for the creditor upon request. A “judgment docket” is a list of judicial orders of a particular court, recorded by the court’s clerk, and available for inspection by the public.

The judgment docket provides the ability for interested parties to learn of the existence of the judgment. Recording a judgment in a judgment docket is considered official notice to all parties of the existence of the judgment.


At any time the debtor satisfies, or pays the judgment, the creditor is obviously no longer permitted to seek collection of that amount – the creditor has already collected. If the creditor agrees with the debtor to settle the case in some other way, the creditor is also not permitted to seek collection in violation of that agreement.