Once a judgment is obtained - after the plaintiff prevails in court and the court order's the defendant to pay a monetary award to the plaintiff, the plaintiff usually has to "enforce" the judgment.  Judgment debtors often to not voluntarily satisfy the judgment, i.e., pay on their own.  The judgment creditor therefore has to first find the debtor's assets and then take further legal measures to actually acquire them.

One of the first steps in enforcing a judgment is sending an information subpoena and restraining order to a bank where you think the judgment debtor may have funds. In New York State, this is governed by Section 5222 of the Civil Practice Laws and Rules (CPLR).

The investigative technique described below is a method to more effectively identify banks where the judgment debtor may have an account and to more efficiently serve the information subpoena and restraining order on the bank.  It is not intended to teach how to enforce a judgment or the details of information subpoenas and restraining orders. 

All banks have a legal department which accepts and deals with subpoenas and restraining orders.  Often any local branch can accept the subpoena and will send it to the bank's legal department.  Under certain circumstances subpoenas are sent directly to the bank's legal department.  Lawyers seeking to enforce a judgment need be proficient in their state's relevant civil procedure and case law. (For a discussion of which branch to serve under New York law, see Digitrex, Inc., v. Howard Johnson, 491 F Supp.66 (SDNY 1980); Therm-X-Chemical & Oil Corp., v. Extebank, 444 N.Y.S.2d 26 (2d Dep't 1981); National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., et al., v. Advanced Employment Concepts, Inc., 703 N.Y.S.2d (1st Dep't 2000)).

Investigative Technique for More Effective Bank Identification

Step 1

1. Through a reliable person locator database, download all addresses linked to the judgment debtor.

2. Cut and paste the results into zip code order.

3. In Google, search the term "bank" and a zip code from this address list.

4. Search each zip code separately, and in zip code order.

5. As an example:


Advanced Search

6. This search will produce the following result which you can cut and past into a separate document.-

  1. Local business results for Bank near Brooklyn, NY 11223


    Bank of America

     - www.bankofamerica.com - (718) 375-1032 - more

    WaMu Bank ATM

     - www.wamu.com - (800) 788-7000 - more

    Sovereign Bank

     - www.sovereignbank.com - (718) 946-0900 - more

    Sovereign Bank

     - www.sovereignbank.com - (718) 627-8387 - more

    Sovereign Bank

     - www.sovereignbank.com - (718) 336-4713 - more

    HSBC Bank USA

     - us.hsbc.com - more

    WaMu Bank ATM

     - www.wamu.com - (800) 788-7000 - more

    Bank of America: Kings Hwy

     - www.bankofamerica.com - (800) 841-4000 - more

    Richmond County Savings Bank

     - www.mynycb.com - (718) 569-3140 - more

    Capital One Bank

     - maps.google.com - (718) 946-5000 - more

7. Another example:

8. This search produces these results:

  1. Local business results for bank near Maryland 20874


    Bank of America

     - www.bankofamerica.com - (301) 515-8404 - more

    Wachovia Bank

     - www.wachovia.com - (301) 528-2312 - more

    M & T Bank

     - www.mandtbank.com - (301) 972-2458 - more

    Chevy Chase Bank: Germantown

     - www.chevychasebank.com - (301) 353-8402 - more

    Sun Trust Bank

     - www.suntrust.com - (301) 515-4912 - more

    Chevy Chase Bank: Germantown

     - www.chevychasebank.com - (301) 916-8550 - more

    Chevy Chase Bank: Germantown

     - www.chevychasebank.com - (301) 540-1000 - more

    Chevy Chase Bank

     - www.chevychasebank.com - (301) 428-1901 - more

    Harvest Bank of Maryland

     - www.harvestbankmd.com - (301) 540-0243 - more

    Davis Connie J

     - www

9. As you continue to search for banks according to the zip codes you have from your person locator database, be sure to execute the searches and keep the search results in zip code order.

10. When you finished searching, you now have (a) a list of banks according to zip codes which coincides with (b) your first list of addresses according to zip codes.

11. You may find it useful, in addition to keeping the list of banks according to zip codes (i.e., the examples in numbers 6 and 8), to modify the list by deleting all the information Google provides except the names of the banks.  This list will look like this:

    Brooklyn,  NY  11223
    Bank of America (2 branches)
    Capital One
    Richmond Savings Bank
    Sovereign (3 branches)
    WaMu (2 ATMs)

    Maryland  20874
    Bank of America
    Chevy Chase Bank (4 branches)
    Harvest Bank of Maryland
    M&T Bank
    Sun Trust

Step 2

1. You now have a list of banks in the zip codes of addresses linked to the judgment debtor, and in zip code order.

2. Make another list of banks in alphabetical order, then separate the banks into states.

3. Call the bank's general customer service number on its website.  Ask to be connected to the bank's legal department. 

4. Speak with the bank's legal department.  The department's representative will give you the information you need: (a) the proper name of the department to which the subpoena is to be sent; (b) its address; and (c) its phone number.  Also, the legal department will tell you what jurisdictions their office covers - for example, the North East, the entire United States, or only the state in which the bank is located.  This generally depends on the size of the bank.  The legal department will generally answer any questions you have about their rules and procedures.

5. Make an alphabetical list of these banks and their subpoena departments, listing all the information you have obtained

6. Log onto the bank's website and find its "Locations" page - the page where you can locate a bank branch.  For example, search Google for Bank of America and you get the following result:

  1. Bank of America | Home | Personal

    Welcome to Bank of America, the nation's leading financial institution and home for all of your personal financial needs.

7. Click on Locations and you get the following page: http://bankofamerica.via.infonow.net/locator/atmbranch/ListLoadAction.do

8. Repeat this with all the banks on your list.  Another example:

  1. Commerce Bank Online

9. Click on Locations to get: http://bank.commerceonline.com/information/locations_hours/

10. Hyperlink the locator page of each bank's website to the name of the bank on your alphabetized bank list.


You should have the following three lists:

(a) a list of addresses linked to the judgment debtor in zip code order;

(b) a list of banks with branches in those zip codes with other information from Google (and possibly a modified list with only the bank's name)

(c) an alphabetical list of banks containing the bank's legal department information, hyperlinked to the bank's branch locator.

By applying your investigative skills to these lists - identifying patterns, making connections, and developing and following leads, you now have an effective and time-efficient tool to assist in (a) locating banks where the judgment debtor may have an account and (b) identifying the easiest way to serve that bank.