The Importance of Acquiring a Social Security Number or EIN/TIN

By Caitlin S. Truelove
Attorney at Law

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During the litigation of a lawsuit against an individual, the creditor/plaintiff must file what we affectionately call SCRAs, which is short for Service Member Relief Act forms. A good rule of thumb is that the plaintiff/creditor should resubmit the SCRA within sixty days of any hearing before the Court. The purpose of these forms is to state that the debtor is not currently in the military and is not deployed as servicemembers are entitled to a stay of any pending litigation against them while they are deployed. In order to say that for certain that the defendant is not an active military personnel or deployed, the creditor/plaintiff needs to have the birth date or social security number for the individual debtor to be able to say for certain that that individual debtor is not in the military or currently deployed. We at Vann Attorneys have experienced where Judges were unwilling to grant motions against debtors with common last names as we could not state for certain that the debtor/defendant was not in the military.

The social security number, and its equivalent for corporations, does not lose its importance once the lawsuit is over, in fact, it becomes arguably more important at the discovery stage. One of the tools available to judgment creditors to collect on a judgment is to garnish bank accounts and receive a court order for a bank levy. This allows us to attempt to reach into a debtor’s bank account to satisfy the judgment.

In order to utilize this tool, banks tend require that you provide them with an account number, a social security number, or its equivalent to identify any accounts that debtor may have with that bank. Banks will not bear the liability of taking money out of an account if they are not certain that that account is related to your judgment debtor. Even if the judgment debtor has a very uncommon last name, banks will not take that risk and so you will be potentially unable to utilize this tool to its fullest potential at the start of your attempts to collect on the judgment.

However, this does not mean that you will be unable to utilize this effective collection tool. Once the Writ of Execution comes back unsatisfied, a range of collections tools open up including sending written interrogatories to the judgment debtor, which allows for judgment creditors to acquire information such as the debtor’s social security number, EIN/TIN, where the debtor has bank accounts, and how much is in those accounts.

The attorneys at Vann Attorneys would be happy to discuss and assist you with developing strategies for getting this information, and drafting documents for parties you are interested in contracting with to fill out.

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