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After being in the legal field for +20 years, I am consulting other process servers, and starting a golf company. In the meantime I wish to convert my blog into a book so that women will know about this career.

Saturday, September 9, 2017





Please don't waste your time and energy sending invoices and bills to a collection agency. There is really nothing they can do to collect your money that you can't do yourself, and YOU can be more effective. The endless phone calls to collection agencies to get a status on your billings is met with answering machines where all you do is leave tons of messages - with no returns calls. This leads to a lot of frustration and most of all - results are nil.
In a previous article, I wrote about suing people in small claims court for money owed to you, mainly stressing the importance of having leverage, if you expect to collect any money (you can read it at www.legworkpi.com.) This new post is about a collections tip for monies owed where you have no leverage, meaning you have no maximum advantage.
In simple terms, if a guy who owes you money has no assets to lien, or you don't have his bank account to attach a lien, or he has no job or you can't find him, then the guy probably has nothing to lose and doesn't care if his credit is ruined. This means you have no advantage over him. He "could care a less." Remember, these tips are for debts that are not cost-effective for you to take them to court.
I have collected thousands of dollars by using these simple tips - think these tips won't work after reading this? Try them and let me know. You have probably given up on collecting some of these debts, probably wrote off the debt and filed it away - don't. You have nothing to lose, even on debts that are several years old, so you might as well be flexible on how you are paid back. The only time you should give up on a debt is if a person has passed away or declared bankruptcy. If you think writing a personal note takes too much time for your staff to do, don't believe it, PEOPLE RESPOND TO COMPASSION.
Don't keep sending bills and final notices to those who owe you money. You know that saying about doing the same thing over and over and over and getting no result? That's insanity. It applies to bill collecting too!
Write them a personal note, in your own handwriting (or one of your staff writes the letter.) People will open a handwritten personal letter. If they see a regular bill or letter computer-generated with a label, they will just throw it away. If you had a file on the person when they first came to see you as a patient or client, use the information that you have on the person such as their birth-date. I don't use office stationery to write letters, I use greeting cards. Yep, so true. There are birthday cards, thinking of you cards, or just nice blank cards - any of these will work. People will open greeting cards.
Remember, each person is different, you cannot use a form letter or card. It might take a few cards to get a response so keep trying, like I said you have nothing to lose. Send a card as often as you can. Use nice generic cards if there is no special occasion, and use Thanksgiving and Christmas cards too. Don't mention the money on every card, space this out, but always include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Example: Thinking of You card
Dear Joe,
Just checking up on you, it's been a while. I know you lost your job last year and was wondering if you were able to find more work? Your bill is only $450.00. If it helps just send in $5.00 when you can. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope for you so you can write and let us know how you are.
Sincerely,
Christi
Several patients sent in their $5.00 each month and paid off their debt, even thanking me for being kind and patient. Not only that, but some patients paid a lot more than $5.00!
Example: Happy Birthday card
Dear Sally,
Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great day. As a birthday present we are lowering your bill from $500 to $350.00, just send in $5.00 a month. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope so you can write and tell us how you are doing - we hope well!
Sincerely,
Christi
This woman came in and paid $350.00! Why? Because we cared..
Example: Happy Thanksgiving card
Dear Bill,
I wanted to write wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope things are better for you this year. Since this is the time of giving, we are lowering your bill to only $1200.00 from the original amount of $1500.00. Just send in $5.00 a month when you can. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope so you can stay in touch.
Sincerely,
Christi
Believe it or not, this guy inherited some money and paid his bill in full!
Example: Blank colorful card
Dear Carol,
It's time to drop you a line again and say hello! What did you think of the offer of only paying $5.00 a month on your bill? Is this something you can afford? Write and let me know what you think of this. If you decide not to write about this, can you write and tell me WHAT WE DID WRONG? We care what every patient thinks of us.
Thanks,
Christi
This woman wrote back to let us we didn't do anything wrong, and she sent in $50.00 a month until the debt was paid off.
You get the idea? For a few dollars to buy cards and a bit of your time, you can re-establish goodwill with former patients and clients, and get paid!
Here's my last special tip: WANT TO DOUBLE YOUR BUSINESS INCOME? Make sure all your current patients and clients are written to regularly, at least 6 times a year. Ask how they are, ask them a specific question that relates to them that they can answer. "How's the golf game?", "How is the kid doing in college?". You have to keep your name in front of your patients and clients a lot if you want referrals and repeat business.
If your practice has a huge backlog of collection problems, whether you think they are collectible or not, let me take a look. Remember, you have nothing to lose...
Christi@legworkpi.com

Sunday, February 12, 2017

YOU'VE GOT MAIL

Rick Waters and Carol Smith were married on November 1, 2001. After a six or seven year marriage, Carol Smith Waters filed for divorce on December 2, 2007. On July 13, 2008, a divorce Judgment was entered, the marriage ended. There are no children from this marriage.

November 22, 2011, three years later - Rick is sitting at his desk and decides to open the daily mail. He finds it intriguing that it's a letter from the Sacramento Superior Court, family law division. To his astonishment, it's a court document called a Findings and Order After Hearing stating his divorce has been set-aside (set-aside is legal jargon meaning his divorce is null and voided).

He's no longer divorced?? Huh? What? This is freaking unbelievable! What hearing???

He had not heard from his ex-wife in three years and now he's no longer divorced? How could this happen without him knowing about it?

Rick then hired LEGWORK to find out how this happened and how he can get this court decision overturned so that he is divorced - again.

Off to the court house I go, pulling the case file and looking at every document Carol filed. There is a document called an ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE (aka OSC, that she hired some paralegal to prepare), asking the court to set-aside her marital Judgment. She whines in this court document that she only has a GED, no college or legal education experience, she didn’t know what she was doing when filing for divorce back in 2007, and now wants the court to open the door so that Carol can go after Rick for property and spousal support. There is a marital settlement agreement originally signed by both of them in the file and all original paperwork appears to be in order. After reading the entire file, the lowdown is this: Carol had managed to somehow get six court hearings from the Sacramento Superior Court without Rick's knowledge.

In the last hearing Carol got the Judge to sign off on her request to set-aside her divorce and this is the copy Rick received in the mail. What did Carol do in all these court hearings? How did she or the court get away with not notifying Rick of all these hearings?

Rick swears he was never personally served or notified regarding any court hearing and especially did not know about this ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE. He had no clue Carol was even pursuing any legal action at all. Here are further facts from the court file, read it and be warned, this is real injustice.

The first court hearing after initially filing the OSC was set for January 4, 2011, in Dept. 124 of the Family Law court. 

Carol attends this first hearing, and the Judge re-sets the hearing for a time in February because there was no Proof of Service showing that Rick received any kind of notification regarding this legal paper and hearing. Carol goes back to court in February, and the Judge again re-sets the hearing in March because there was again, no Proof of Service showing Rick had any notice of this hearing.

Carol goes back to court in March, and again this hearing was re-set for April 25th, because again, there was no proof of service. At the April hearing, Carol shows up and again the Judge would not hear it due to there being no Proof of Service. Another hearing date was then set for July 18, 2011.

In the case file, each hearing has its own notes of what transpired each time. Carol, in every hearing told the Judge that she cannot find Rick to serve him and needs more time.

Rick had no knowledge of any of these court appearances by Carol and definitely did not know about the hearing in July. 

From April to July 18, 2011, a review of statements made by Carol in the case file, it appears Carol engaged in filing false information, thus allowing the court to believe certain things about Rick thus granting her what she wanted; she got the court to set-aside her marital Judgment, without Rick having any knowledge of this or a chance to defend himself.

Carol has known the whole time where Rick's business is located (she worked there at one time) and could have easily served Rick. His business is open to the public, when you come into the store his desk is in public view. 

One note in the case file is definitely misleading to the court. Carol states she hired a process server, some guy named Gary, to try and serve Rick the Order to Show Cause. According to this process server, he stated in a Due Diligence Declaration that he attempted to serve Rick at two different old addresses.

Carol knows that Rick hasn't lived at these addresses for years and could have sent the process server to his place of business.

At one of these hearings, Carol speaks to the court about getting permission to publish a document called APPLICATION & ORDER FOR SERVICE OF PUBLICATION. This is an action where you can legally serve a person by publishing the legal document in a newspaper. In this document she tells the court:

1. Carol cannot locate Rick to serve him documents regarding the hearings. (false)
2. Rick has some kind of outstanding legal action against him. (false)
3. Her "only choice" to serve Rick is by publishing this notice in a paper (false)
4. Carol states that Rick “will continue to take action to avoid service.” (false)

Based on these statements the court can only assume that Rick is avoiding service, that he can’t be found, that he has some legal action against him from somewhere and that he will continue to avoid this legal situation. (false)

Carol lies to the Judge and he signs the ORDER on May 23, 2011, now allowing Carol to publish this notice in the newspaper and she does so for four weeks in June, 2011.

Rick or anyone else for that matter doesn't make it a habit to check the newspapers everyday looking for this kind of legal notice in some small time newspaper. Would you?

Carol knew this notice would never be seen by Rick.

During this publication period of four weeks, Carol hires another process serving company. It is unknown why she would do this, she has already published, and the court requires nothing else to be done.

There is another time where Carol hired another process server, James. This process server goes to Auburn, CA. address seven times. She has James sign a Due Diligence Declaration that he went to this address and couldn’t find Rick. She files this with the court on July 18, 2011.

At no time did this process server come to Rick's work either.

July 18th, in the Sacramento Superior Court, Dept. 124 @ 1:30 PM, without Rick's knowledge, Carol tells the court Rick cannot be located and that she has no idea where he is. Therefore the Judge rules that the divorce Judgment is set-aside, issuing a FINDINGS AND ORDER AFTER HEARING, in her favor.

Carol then goes further by getting some female friend to serve Rick by just mailing a copy of this Findings and Order After Hearing. This female then signs a court document stating Rick was served by mail. But again, Carol gives this person an old address to mail it to. Rick has not lived there for almost a year but luckily, this court order was forwarded to him at his work address and here we are today. 

Rick now has to fill out court forms, obtain a hearing asking the court to set-aside the Order and Findings after Hearing per CCP Code 473 and impose Sanctions per PC 271 on Carol for purposely misleading the court as to Rick's whereabouts, including sanctions for causing him undue financial hardship for filing this Motion, including attorney, paralegal and court fees. 

In situations like this, it would costs thousands of dollars to litigate this mess. And sure enough, Rick decided after hearing what some attorney's and mediation fees were, he asked me if I could further assist him. I told him I wasn't an attorney but as a process server, I could use some of my skills and see what happens.

The first thing I did was prepare an Affidavit and several other Request for Hearing documents (of all of the facts I have laid out so far), had Rick sign each one, filed them all with the court and our hearing was set for January 15, 2012.

Now I need to serve Carol with a copy of this and I am reminded of an old saying, “Keep your friends close, and your enemy’s closer."
― Sun Tzu

I decided to just telephone Carol, I have to serve her anyway, she can run but not hide, and it makes sense to do this the simple way first. To my luck, she was receptive, all too eager to meet, be the victim and tell me all about it. Besides serving her, I wanted to find out what her beef really is and what her strategy is going to be at the hearing in January. 

As it turns out, I met with Carol on two occasions. The first time we met, I served her the legal papers so she can attend the hearing. She talked openly and I noted her statements telling her I wanted to type up an Affidavit for her signature, and we would get together again to make sure it was correct before I filed it with the court.

I had no intention of doing jack-crap with any Affidavit; I just wanted her strategy, which is:
She wants alimony from Rick.
She wants the court to subpoena his bank accounts, financial records from his business and other financial institutions, so she can show the court the amount of money he is making.
She wants equitable monies for all the property and business assets he has.

When we met again, I pretended to give-a-hoot and let her read a quasi-affidavit I typed up. Not to my surprise at all, she changes her story on certain statements she had said to me previously. She’d say, “I didn’t mean that” or “I think someone misunderstood” or “I want to think about whether or not I am going to say that in the courtroom”. When I tried to confirm exactly what statements she was going to make or what statements she possibly might make in the courtroom, she stated repeatedly that she wants to “think about it”. Basically, I could not get her to commit on what she was going to say, she was being manipulative, evasive and well, you know, a b----. 

Then Carol decides to verbally tell me if Rick does not cooperate she might have to tell the court and Judge the following: Rick told her after the divorce, he would still take care of her, and they had sexual relations while she continued to work for him in his business. She'll go on to tell the court Rick owes her for the time he beat her up, which she had bruises and pictures of this abuse, and that Rick hid $200,000 cash during the original divorce proceedings. All of these accusations are false.

It was really apparent now that Carol felt scorned and wanted revenge, and if she keeps lying which she has done and continues to do, then these hearings will never end. She'll make up lies why she can't show proof of abuse, "I lost the pictures"  or "my internet provider is going to send me the emails"  or "I need more time" or in actuality, it's "I'm going to keep on lying and disrupt Rick's life."  It will be hearing after hearing.

The one thing I had going for me was she was very naive, she had no clue what the repercussions were for lying to a Judge in a court room. Since I met her, I found her to have no inkling of a conscious. Trying to pin her down about these untrue statements, she just ignored them in a contempt manner.

These hearings had to stop, this craziness had to stop. I have no pity when I find that someone does not have a conscious. So I am going to call her bluff, show her how the legal system really can work to bite her in the ass and teach her a lesson. 

I prepared some subpoenas which forces Carol to come to the court hearing with documents and pictures showing physical abuse.

I gave a trial subpoena to all the process servers she hired so they can testify in court that Carol purposely gave them Rick's old addresses so he could NOT be found. I also gave a trial subpoena to a bookkeeper who knew Carol had worked in Rick's business prior to the divorce, to testify that Carol knew where to find Rick this whole time. I also subpoenaed Carol's mother, who knew where Rick worked along with giving subpoena's to two other friends of Carol's, who knew where Rick was working.

I served Carol with all of these subpoenas, and she was pissed beyond belief. She went into a screaming tirade, throwing the subpoenas everywhere and stalked off, threatening to hire a lawyer.

I told Rick that I have done what I can do within my process serving ability, and that he may need a lawyer if she continues to lie and cause trouble. We won't know until the court hearing in January.

 In the meantime, I filed another Affidavit with the court outlining Carol's accusations and how they are false. There never was any physical abuse, much less sexual relations after the divorce and neither was there $200,000 hidden anywhere.

I checked the court case file periodically up until the hearing date to see if Carol had filed any more paperwork with the court, but there was nothing, so if anything I got her to stop filing lies and distortions with the court. Rick prepared for the worst, which she would attend the hearing, carry-on like a victim and we'll be in court hearings forever, and he'll need to hire a very expensive lawyer.

Unbeknownst to Carol, court Judges really don't have time to read every document that is filed. Since Carol bought this action, she gets to go first at the hearing. She'll start rambling and the judge won't have any idea what she is talking about. I told Rick, do not say or do anything at the hearing unless the Judge asks him a question, let Carol dig herself into a bigger hole. 

JUDGMENT DAY: January 20, 2012 - Sacramento Superior Court - 1:30 PM
Rick and I show up along with the witnesses we subpoenaed. Carol shows up by herself and does not look in our direction at all. After listening to three other cases before us, it was Rick's turn; both he and Carol went up to their prospective seats. The Judge looked over the file, took off his glasses, looked up at Carol and said, "You go first Ms. Smith, what is going on here?"

To our amazement, Carol made this statement. "In light of new discussions with my family and counselor, I wish to withdraw my intentions to set-aside my divorce judgment and actually re-instate my divorce". The Judge asked her if she was absolutely sure she wanted to do this and if she is doing this under her own determinism. She replied that she was. The Judge then stated to both Rick and Carol that the original divorce judgment of July 13, 2008 was re-instated. This hearing took less than five minutes!

I still believe up to this day that the Judge had no time to read all the Affidavits, not really knowing all the lies Carol told. If she had pursued this action, then all her lies and perjury would have come to light resulting in some kind of punishment. I also believe that the basis of the subpoenas and asking people to testify threatened to expose Carol's lies. She was scared that she would get caught for lying and obstructing justice.

Rick and I left the courtroom, waited in the lobby for the bailiff to bring us some paperwork, and while we were waiting, Carol left the courtroom and came into the lobby, saw us and flipped us off as she went by. That's okay, we made our point.













Friday, January 27, 2017

SMALL CLAIMS IS NOT YOUR FRIEND



      I mean this in the most sincere way, Small Claims court is not your friend if you do not understand how it really works. I still run into people who are frustrated and upset with small claims court because they did not feel justice was served, for one reason or another including small technicalities and frankly, because proper legal procedure was not followed.

     Instead of writing an entire small claims legal course, I am going to list a few of the most common misunderstandings people make (not your fault as there are things the court just doesn't have time to tell you). No, I am not an attorney. My job as a process server, when serving small claims papers entitles me to take the initiative to make sure the legal papers you just filed are correct. 

    This is an article giving you advice and opinion based on my experience, some of it may be harsh but it is reality. Always consult an attorney for an actual course of action if you have concerns. Court clerks do not check if your paperwork is 100% correct, it's not their job and they do not give legal advice - it is up to us to figure it out.
Common Misunderstandings:
WRONG NAME FOR DEFENDANT: This kind of mistake mostly happens when you are suing a business. If you are suing Joe Smith Automotive because that was the name on your receipt, it is not necessarily his legal name that he has to be sued under. All the defendant has to do is show up for the court hearing, tell the Judge this legal paper does not have the correct legal name for the business, and the case can be dismissed, and some have been dismissed. This is because if you win your case and get a Judgment, then you want to file a lien or attach wages, your Judgment has to match the defendant's name exactly with any bank accounts, government agencies or employers. HINT: To find the legal name of any business or company, look at the bottom of their webpage. The web address might say www.joesmithautomotive.com but at the bottom of the web page it will say Joe Smith Automotive LLC., and this is the name you put on your legal papers. You can contact the Secretary of State to find out who is the Agent for Service. If there is no web search information, check with the County Recorder for a Fictitious Business Name Statement such as Joe Smith Automotive, or check with the CA Bureau of Automotive Repair or the State Contractors Board, (if the defendant is a contractor). If Joe Smith Automotive is not listed with the CA Bureau of Automotive Repair or any other governing agency, then you are probably safe suing Joe with the only name you have. If you are suing any contractor or automotive repair company and they have no license with the CA State Agencies they are suppose to, get a letter stating this from the Agency, take it to the hearing and you will probably win your case just because of that. So bottom line, before you sue a business make sure you have the actual legal name for the business or company. Here's as trick: Before a client of mine wanted to sue a business, I needed to know the legal name of a business and his banking information so I could levy his bank account. I could not find this information anywhere. I went to the business, bought something from him and wrote a check, then from my bank I got a copy of the check after it cleared. The legal name and account number were on the back of the check where the business endorsed it.
LEVERAGE: I have seen people sue another because of emotion, not practicality. Take a moment and ask yourself if you are going to be effective in recovering your money. In other words, what in gods name makes you think, after serving a defendant, he/she is just going to show up in court and get his/her hand slapped with an order from the Judge to pay you? Ask any collection agency, they have hundreds of Judgments they cannot collect on. Do you know why? NO LEVERAGE. With collections agencies, it's a crap shoot. They figured if they keep harassing someone, they will pay. Not so much. A low life has ripped you off - they did not have car insurance when they hit you, or bounced a check on you or they failed to pay back rent - we get it, it's a bummer. But make sure before you go through all the court bureaucracy to get a hearing and then a Judgment, that the person you are suing has something to lose. If a loser has nothing to lose then the result is, you lose. For example, does the person you are suing own any property, or been at their job for a long time? Does this person have a successful business with employees and an actual commercial property address? Does this person have something that if you sue him, will affect some part of his life? Then you have leverage, because the person you are suing doesn't want a lien on his house, they don't want their wages attached, and he wouldn't want his business levied on. After reading this, if you still want to sue because you want "justice" and are still angry - and the loser you are suing has no job or any leverage - here's what you do. After you get your Judgment, get a certified copy of it from the small claims court clerk, take it to the County Recorder and for a few bucks you can put a lien on the Defendant. You are actually putting the lien on his/her name, because if this loser ever wins the lottery, he has to pay all his lien obligations first, and that's you. (Did you know the State of California checks you out before they fork over the lottery money to you?). If you owe the government any money or have liens on you, the lottery takes this money out of your winnings. So you might recover the money someday, but for now the lien will stay on file and if the loser ever tries to buy a house with an inheritance or something, the loser will have to pay you before escrow closes. I wrote an interesting legal case about LEVERAGE on my blog: www.legworkpi.com and this gives you insight on how important leverage is.
APPLICATION AND ORDER TO APPEAR FOR EXAMINATION: I have never seen this work. That doesn't mean it hasn't work for some people, if so, let me know as I've never seen it work. Any Plaintiff suing another, and has a Judgment for monies they want to collect but can't find anything the Defendant owns to levy, or you can't figure out where they work or pretty much anything else, you can serve this Application and Order on the Defendant, (more court and process serving fees). This makes the Defendant show up and under oath, has to answer all your questions about his property, finances and other assets. Please remember this is an informal hearing, don't expect the Judge to fight for you so you can "finally get justice." A Judge can't make the Defendant tell the truth. If the Defendant says he doesn't have a bank account, he doesn't have to prove he doesn't. If the Defendant says he doesn't have a job, he doesn't have to prove he doesn't. He doesn't have to prove anything. If he had the money to pay you in the first place, you wouldn't need to do this. You are better off doing your own research into the Defendant's property and assets so you can attach wages or a lien etc. www.courts.ca.gov/documents/ej125.
SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - SERVING PAPERS FOR YOU: Most Sheriff's Civil Divisions in CA will serve your legal papers for you, for a small fee. What you need to know is, it is not an actual Sheriff in a uniform using a Sheriff's vehicle serving your papers. They are process servers in plain clothes, just like any other process server. They only work from 8 AM to 5 PM and are employees of the Sheriff's Department. They do not work nights or weekends and do not guarantee your papers will be served. If the Sheriff's Civil Division does not serve your papers in time for your hearing, you have to start all over again. It is better to hire a private process server who can work nights and weekends, and get the legal papers served on time for you. The Sheriff's Department should be used if you need to do a bank levy, earnings withholding order, vehicle levy or business seizures. Check out the Civil Division, Service of Process at www.sacsheriff.com.
So these are the most important things to know especially regarding LEVERAGE. Remember, we must also keep emotion out of any small claims case. Judges only follow laws governing small claims, they cannot help you get punitive damages to handle any emotional distress. That is another courts jurisdiction.




Friday, December 19, 2014

HOW TO FIND SOMEONE'S EMPLOYER

The good ole' days - the 90's - when finding someone's employer was easy. When we ran credit header reports, the employer was listed. Not any more. So over the years, PI's and Process Servers had to improvise, coming up with new ways to find an employer. It's not at all easy any more but can be done. 

These are my successful actions in finding an employer of a target, defendant or a respondent. I have found the employer every time implementing these actions.

Every case is different, there is no set way to go about getting employer information. The basic and most important attribute you need is street smarts. A street smart person has a lot of common sense, knows every type of person, understands people and how to act around them. This person knows how to deal with different situations and has his own independent state of mind - able to switch pretext stories in a second. 

I recommend two books that discuss a wide range of cases with bright ideas and websites to use in your profession. These books are:

Chuck Chambers, PI - The Private Investigators Handbook
Link: Chuck Chambers, PI

Valeri McGilvrey - The Most Useful Websites
Link: Valeri McGilvrey

Not to be mundane or talk "down" to you but we need to cover the simple and easy ways to locate an employer. Always do the simplest thing first. Check out all the social media websites, Facebook, Linked In, and the city/county/state business licensing bureaus, etc. The key here is, if a person does not list an employer on his Facebook page, he might list a profession. Then you can check the state licensing boards for that profession and see if he is licensed and who he is working for. That is one idea and has been very successful for me. 

Do not underestimate Facebook. One time, I swear to you, I checked a person on Facebook, he did not list any profession BUT in checking his friends list, (he didn't have any privacy settings on his Facebook page), he and I had a friend in common. I contacted our mutual friend, made up a story and found out where the guy worked. My story to our mutual friend was that I was looking for a good insurance agent and thought "Joe" was in the insurance field. The mutual friend stated not insurance, he worked for the State of California. I checked the employee's roster for the State of CA, (this is public information), and there he was listed, he had recently gotten hired. Always check the friends list if you can, you never know.

Keeping it simple - here is another way to find the employer of someone, and I am sure you are aware of this: Follow them. If your client has the budget, use two investigators, two cars and two-way radios. This is a hit and miss as it could take just 2 hours or it could take some time waiting for the guy to leave his house. Most people work at 7 AM, 3 PM and 11 PM. Beat the odds by watching the house prior to these times and see if they leave. I do not sit all day but if by the second day there is no movement, no cars visible or no lights on at night, something is wrong, maybe the person is on vacation. I would then do a drive by at night and not resume a stakeout until you see lights. In the meantime I would also go to the post office and verify the person you want to follow is still living at the house and still receiving mail there. I learn this the hard way one time, I watched the house all day for two days then found out from the post office that the place was vacant and my guy moved.

When following targets to their work place, with two cars, has been successful for me.  

You would think, with all the news about identity theft and protecting ones privacy, that people would be more secure with their documents but some still don't shred their personal data. I have found payroll stubs and employment info in people's garbage - to this day. Chuck Chambers, in his book, covers the art of Dumpster diving. What I can add is this: in certain California counties and maybe in other states, taking ones garbage, even if it is on the street for pick-up, is illegal. California has a lot of problems with the homeless people and recycling guys going through people's trash, so local laws were passed. Here are some different ways that I circumvent this kind of situation:

1. I actually call the city or county garbage agency that has jurisdiction over the address I want to get the garbage from. They will tell you what day of the week the garbage is picked up from that address. The agency doesn't ask you any questions, they think you just moved in or something. I tell them: "Where I used to live" we had trouble with homeless going through our garbage, and ask the agency if at this address, is it illegal to dumpster dive. If they say no, you don't need to do anything else, say goodbye and go get the garbage.

2. If the agency says it is illegal, you have to now switch gears, tell them a story. You already have the day of the pickup, so call the agency back the night before the pickup day. You want to get this conversation on the record as they tape all phone conversations. I tell them this: "I need permission to go through the garbage along this street as I think a wallet was lost in this area and I need to go through the garbage in case someone threw the wallet (or purse) out." The agency will say sure, go ahead and now you have permission. Get the name of the person you spoke to and give him/her your first name. If a neighbor happens to see you and inquires about what you are doing going though garbage cans, tell them the same story about the lost wallet and that you got permission from the city/county They will feel sorry for you and leave you alone. Everyone knows a woman who has left her purse or wallet on top of her car and driven off right? No? Well, that's my story....

At no time did I say "my wallet" or give any specifics, keep your statements general when speaking to these agencies. They have never asked for my name or phone number, so there you go. 

3. Just knock on the door of the targets neighbor. 
This is the worst option, (you have to be able to pull off an excellent pretext), but if you do not have access to one's garbage and you have exhausted all other resources and bright ideas, this is what you do - knock on the door of the targets neighbor. Just be upfront, even give them your business card.

FIRST, make sure your target is not home before you knock on the neighbors door. I usually do this at night time, then I can see if any lights are on at the targets house or a car in the driveway. If there are lights and a car, come back again during the day time to speak to the neighbor - as long as there is no car at the targets house, or speak to the neighbor at night when there are no lights on or car present. 

Here is my pretext:

The next door neighbor answers the door -- have a little notebook/pen and your ID visible.

"Hi, sorry to bother you but my name is Christi Losh with LEGWORK (hand them your card) and we are looking for a missing witness for our trial. We understood she/he lived around this neighborhood." I let this statement hang in the air for a moment so I can size the person up. 

They usually say "um....ok."

Then I say:

"Two years ago there was an accident down the street, on the corner of Elm & Oak (find a couple of real streets around this address). Use street names that have a busy intersection.This accident involved 2 minor children who were hurt by a hit & run driver and our witness saw the accident, saying the vehicle ran a red light. Our witness was behind the hit & run driver. We thought the case was going to settle a couple of years ago but it didn't so now we are looking for this witness, Joe Smith, we think is his name." Make up a name, not the targets name.  

Talk at a medium pace and look relaxed.

Then I say:

"We thought Joe Smith, like I said, we could have the name wrong, lived next door and worked for Federal Express...is that true, does your neighbor or any neighbor work for Federal Express? The person says, No, the guy next door works for JB Manufacturing but his name is Steve Roberts. (the name of the guy you are actually looking for).

BOOM, there's your employer.

If you didn't get the employers name from that neighbor, try another neighbor. 

Be prepared for anything as there can be variations to this - one time after a neighbor told me my target worked at COSTCO, she insisted on helping me further, so she called my target for me on his cell phone to find out if he knew a Joe Smith that used to live at his place. My target told her no, he didn't know Joe Smith. Kinda funny...get it? 

I am interested to know the successful actions of others, where they have found employer information. Let's share some of those.