Collecting a debt can be extremely time consuming and frustrating. Allow L4SB to utilize their legal expertise to eliminate the headaches of debt collection.
What is Debt Collection?
In its simplest terms, debt collection is the process of pursuing payments of debts owed by individuals or businesses. When a customer doesn’t pay as promised, expected or contracted, it can represent a serious setback for the business. L4SB can help you in two important ways:
- L4SB can help you collect on a specific debt by brainstorming options with you, writing a demand letter, and filing a lawsuit through one of its litigation partners.
- L4SB can strategize with you on your business processes and your client contracts, to help beef up your collections capability and help improve your legal position when you need to take legal action to collect subsequent debts.
Spending working hours trying to collect debt can consume valuable resources, which can end up costing your business even more lost money.
How Do We Collect a Debt?
The general process L4SB uses to collect a debt is as follows:
- Issue a letter specifically outlining (with evidence) the debt that is owed and payment terms and requirements.
- Negotiate a settlement and agreement (if appropriate).
- If settlement fails, file a lawsuit through one of its litigation partners, if the dollar amounts in question make litigation feasible. If there are options available for paying the debt, those options should be clearly spelled out in the demand letter.
The second step oftentimes takes patience and compromise, but in the end, requires an agreement between the disputing parties on the resolution and often a “waiver and release” from future legal action. This second step is very important, because if you fail at reaching a compromise and negotiated settlement, your only other option may be a lawsuit (unless other forms of dispute resolution are available, such as mediation or arbitration).
What to Be Careful of When Collecting a Debt?
Unfortunately for some businesses, if the debt is a “consumer debt,” your debt collection efforts are regulated and controlled by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (or FDCPA for short), or similar laws passed at the state-level. The FDCPA’s stated purposes are to eliminate abusive practices in the collection of consumer debts, to promote fair debt collection, and to provide consumers with an avenue for disputing and obtaining validation of debt information in order to ensure the information’s accuracy. The FDCPA creates guidelines under which debt collectors may conduct business, defines rights of consumers involved with debt collectors, and prescribes penalties and remedies for violations of the Act. It is sometimes used in conjunction with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and applies to third-party “debt collectors,” although many states have passed similar laws to regulate “original creditors.”
Businesses would be wise to abide by the requirements of the FDCPA, or the local state’s laws that mirror the FDCPA for “original creditors,” to avoid potential causes of action. Requirements include hours of contact, ceasing contact when requested, repeated contact, contact at place of employment, etc. L4SB can help you understand any legal requirements to debt collection, and can help you refine your processes as appropriate (to your particular business and your company’s particular type of customer).
Common Debt Collecting Questions
- Do you collect on a contingency basis?
No. L4SB does not perform contingency-based work. There are many great law firms and attorneys who do, but you will need to ask around for a referral. Most contingency-based attorneys only consider large amounts in controversy (i.e. cases over $100,000).
- I can not collect on a debt. Do I need to file a lawsuit?
No. You can try a demand letter from an attorney or law firm. You can also look at the contract, if one exists, to see if there are other remedies available for a breach of contract (i.e. not paying is usually considered a breach of contract). Also, depending on the nature of the debt, there may be other remedies available for you. For example, depending on the nature of the debt, you may be entitled to specific court action without a lawsuit.
- Should I represent myself in a debt collection lawsuit?
It is not recommended for one to represent him/herself in a lawsuit, and in many instances, a business entity must be represented by an attorney in a court of law. The reason you should not represent yourself in a lawsuit, is that a non-attorney is simply not familiar with the arcane legal and procedural requirements of local, state and federal court. If the other party is represented by counsel, and you are representing yourself, you will be slaughtered (even if the facts support your case). This is because the attorney will be familiar with civil procedure, and will know how to challenge your evidence and your case. Worse, a good attorney will know how to file a counterclaim against you, that will often significantly increase the stakes against you.An exception to this is “small claims court,” where amounts in controversy of less than $10,000 may be heard and it is easier to represent yourself because these courts have been specifically created for small claims and pro se representation (i.e. representing oneself).
- When should I hire L4SB to collect a debt?
Only after (1) you have attempted to collect the debt yourself, (2) you have exhausted all options available to you (short of violence, harmful, tortuous or illegal acts), and (3) you no longer care about preserving the relationship with the other party. The third item is important: No one likes receiving a legal demand letter from an attorney or law firm, and you will forever and irrevocably ruin the relationship. Small business owners should think twice before getting a lawyer involved with its important customers, vendors or partners.Note, however, that seeking legal advice on the proper interpretation of a contract or otherwise discussing your legal options is a great option for the wise business owner.
The Law 4 Small Business Difference
Collecting a debt with L4SB puts experienced business lawyers on your side. We ensure your business is following the debt collecting laws in the state of your choosing, and we offer competent, sound legal advice to help you legally collect on a debt.
If you chose L4SB, it means you have licensed attorneys acting as your representation, unlike the other guys across the wire. This means your business benefits from attorney-client privilege, and you can rely on the advice and counsel of competent business lawyers to advise you in all phases and aspects of your business.