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Formal Demand Letter Tips from a Massachusetts Debt Collection Lawyer
Running a business is a pleasure and a pain. That is why it is so frustrating to see your accounts receivables aging beyond 180 days. Since incoming cash flow is the livelihood of your business, the impact is devastating when it is not being paid by services already rendered. Even Massachusetts debt collection lawyers deal with this issue!
No matter what transpired to leave the bill unpaid, the newest problem you face is getting paid. Since people cannot file a police report, filing a claim with the courts may be necessary. Before you can take a customer to court, you must inform him or her of your intention to do so. This is accomplished by writing a demand letter.
What is a Demand Letter?
A demand letter is a written formal request made to someone who owes you a debt. It’s different from a past due notice because it informs the customer that a debt is owed and is being referred to a Massachusetts debt collection lawyer for legal action. Aside from politeness and practicality, the basic elements of a good demand letter include:
1. your company’s name, address, and date of the letter
2. the amount he or she owes in itemization format including all fees and costs
3. a description of the services related to the debt
4. that you are filing a petition in court in 30 days
5. how the bill can be eradicated before it goes to court
After drafting your demand letter, it’s a good idea to let your debt collection lawyer review it before being sent. This step will ensure that you are complying with Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (MCPA). A violation of the MCPA may result in your having to pay the person that owed you money in the first place.
Keep Your Customer Records Organized and Accessible
Once your attorney edits and approves the demand letter, the next step is to send it to your customer. Retain a copy in paper or electronic format for your records. Then, send the demand letter via certified mailed, return receipt requested. This receipt is your proof that the letter was sent and signed for in case the customer states he or she never received it. Maintaining an impeccable paper-trail to back up your claims is a time and sanity saver.
A Demand Letter Is Like Cooking with Gas
Most people do not want to go face a business in court. The individual often wants to hire an attorney which is an expense that can outweigh their debt. Instead, you may find that this final demand is just what the customer needed to motivate him or herself.
Do I Need a Massachusetts Debt Collection Lawyer to Write a Demand Letter?
You do not need an attorney to actually write a complex, regulated letter. However, you may need an attorney to help you comply with the MCPA and maximize your legal rights during the process. Plus, when a letter comes from a Boston debt collection law firm, your customer knows that you are serious about collecting payment.
Law Firm Letterhead Tends to Be Quite Convincing
A debt collection lawyer that represents businesses also understands how to write from a persuasive legal perspective. He or she has the experience to draft letter copy that motivates people to pay bills. Your lawyer also handles all communication with the client. This means that he or she handles the negotiations.
Establishing an Attorney-Client Relationship Is Key
Finally, having a lawyer draft the demand letter creates a backdrop for the case. Since he or she already understands your business, the debtor, and what happened leading up to filing a petition, efficiencies, and expertise in your portfolio are created. It is a little easier to manage from this approach.
What Happens After the Letter is Sent?
After your Massachusetts debt collection lawyer sends the letter, it is up to your customer to respond, pay, or do nothing. In a perfect world, and sometimes it is, the client will call the law firm and make pay the balance in full before a petition ever has to be filed. Then, you can forgive the situation, and everyone can move on with their lives.
The Worst Thing That Can Happen
The worst-case scenario is that the customer ignores the notice altogether. This means that you need to file a lawsuit in small claims or district civil court, depending on the size of the debt. Collecting on debt through court judgment can be as long or as short as the customer is being uncooperative.
Attorneys Can Negotiate with Your Customers
While most cases fall into both extremes, you can authorize your attorney to work out a payment plan with clients who want to pay the debt but avoid court. The terms of these arrangements are well-documented with much shorter time frames and less-forgiving terms. For example, a payment can be broken up into 4 monthly payments. A single missed payment means that you are filing a complaint will be filed in court.
Refer the Account to a Massachusetts Debt Collection Lawyer
You don’t have to go through the hassle of collecting commercial debts on your own. The risk of an MCPA violation is too much for the pride and integrity of a well-meaning business owner. You deserve to be paid for the services you have already provided in good faith.
Go with a Legal Team that Works for You
We are here to help. Consider working with our team of Massachusetts debt collection attorneys at Goldberg & Oriel. We have 50 years of combined experience to put on your side through practical representation and counsel. We can guide your case from the initial demand letter to collecting on court judgments. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (617) 969-1111 ext. 12 or by completing our request form.