The debtor is a big collector, whether of coins, stamps, toys, or comic books. You ask about the collection but get no response, or else you are told it was “lost” or sold for much less than you were always told it was worth. You need answers about what happened to it.



As with any asset not subject to the government-imposed recording requirement that governs real estate, companies or vehicles, chasing down a collectible will usually require the use of a telephone. The advent of the internet has changed collection hunting as well.

Think of it this way: If you were a collector seeking to get rid of something of value, why would you sell to the rare-stamp dealer in your city when dozens of dealers around the country stood to offer you a superior price?

The traditional way to track sales of collections was to make inquiries at well-known dealers, and to check the classified ads in reputable publications that specialize in the thing being collected.

Nowadays, people can post their own ads. The nice thing about collections is that their owners often really love them and can’t help boasting about them. That means that while a person would never write openly about a Bahamas bank account, the same may not be true for the $200,000 collection of thimbles or Japanese fans he has carefully built over the past 30 years.

One tool we especially like is to figure out the internet “handle” of the person we are looking at. If he is Superman112 on MySpace, chances are that the Superman112 selling his stamp collection is your man.

As with antiques, you may also want to check the debtor’s records for evidence of a trip taken to dispose of the collection, the hiring of movers, or evidence from customs records.