If you’ve lent money to someone in the past, you may have done so in complete trust. However, this trust can often backfire. A friend, family member, client, or former roommate may owe you money from months or even years ago. And while you might be tempted to forget and move on, it is often in your right to pursue debt collection.
The following guide will provide some key steps to collect money from various individuals. While sticking to these steps may not guarantee their cooperation, the suggestions can point you in the right direction.
Friends can be some of the trickiest people to collect money from. You have a personal relationship with them, so you don’t want to damage the friendship while pursuing the issue. However, sometimes you need to put personal feelings aside.
As a first step, sit down with your friend in a casual setting and ask them about the money. In a best case scenario, they may have forgotten. In a worst case scenario, they will make an excuse or deny that they borrowed the money in the first place. If you are unsuccessful in this situation, you may need to give them a deadline in writing. This is especially important for large amounts of money. Tell them that you are willing to take legal action if they continue to ignore your requests.
It’s common for family members to loan each other money in times of financial distress. However, it’s important to make an agreement to pay the money back. You can often approach a family member as you would a friend, telling them that you were happy to help them out but need to money back by a certain date. It may be helpful to set up a payment plan in writing with your family member, allowing them to give you the money back in pieces. This is generally enough to get your money back from a family member, but you may need to seek legal help in severe cases.
Most freelancers and independent contractors have experienced unpaid invoices and absent clients. In some cases, your client may have forgotten to pay the invoice. A friendly reminder may be enough to nudge them in this case. However, some clients will virtually disappear for months and ignore your emails and phone calls. Send weekly invoices if this occurs, keeping careful records of everything.
If you continue to be ignored after 90 days, send a final notice and say that you will take them to small claims court if you do not hear back within ten days. Some clients will pay up then, but you may need to seek legal help.
A former roommate is one of the trickier people to get money from. You may not be in contact with them anymore, and you may not know how to contact them. So, the first step in receiving your money is to locate the individual. Services like Golookup can pull up addresses and phone numbers, so you can call them or send them a letter. Call them and ask about the money. If you are unable to reach them or they are not receptive, send letters to their home establishing a deadline. Hire a lawyer if you continue to not hear from them and they owe you a large sum of money.
Pursuing money that someone owes you can be intimidating. However, you have the right to protect your own financial security. Just remember to make an agreement in writing whenever you lend someone a large amount of money. This will protect you and hold the other individual accountable.