|An inside look at debt collection by Jim Heath|
source ref: ebook.htm
|Chapter 1:What happens to the innocent?|
|Chapter 2:How to avoid problems - cheaply|
|Chapter 3:Simple ways to collect a debt yourself|
|Chapter 4:Getting rougher: the counsel of experience|
|Chapter 5:Using a lawyer|
|Chapter 6:DIY law: taking the wolf by the ear|
|Chapter 7:Turning the screw: how to enforce a court order|
|Chapter 8:Using a private investigator|
|Chapter 9:Using a debt collection agency|
|Chapter 10:The dreaded section 364|
|Chapter 11:What Next?|
|Chapter 12:Thanks to...|
|Chapter 13:Some legal terms that come up a lot|
NOT MANY people think of hiring a private investigator to help collect a debt. But it's one of my favourites! If you hire one who works freelance, it's not ferociously expensive. These guys can find out anything -- or find anyone (if that's the problem).
"Mr. Rich, I'm a private investigator. I'm here to confirm that you are living at this address, so that a summons can be issued against you for the $3412.37 you owe to High Rollers Motor Repairs."
"I'm not here to collect the debt. Like I said, I'm just looking into the background a bit, to help my client."
"My background!" thinks the debtor.
The private investigator -- probably an ex-policeman -- fills the doorway. He has a certain... presence. He quietly takes notes.
"Uh, actually, I was just about to pay that. Mrs Rich dropped our chequebook in a bucket of water when she was hosing down the Rolls. But the bank sent us a new chequebook this morning. Could I give you a cheque now?"
The private investigator takes the cheque. An hour later he gives it to his client.
No summons, no legal fees. Just $50 to the private investigator for 'checking the debtor's address'.
Unless a private investigator holds a Mercantile Agents' Licence, he can't charge you to collect a cheque. But he can pick up a cheque for you if the debtor offers it. It's surprising how often this can happen.
And even the hardest 'professional debtors' -- real scumbags who keep changing their address -- will pay promptly when one of these ex-policemen advises them that it's either that, or the CIB. (Extreme debt cases often lapse into fraud.) No harassment, mind you, just kindly advice.
So it's worth having the phone number for a couple of private investigators. They've all got car telephones. So easy to reach, so pleasant to use.
The other thing is they can find out if it's worth chasing a debtor. For say $50 you can find out quite a lot. For $150 you can get a top-line report. You might discover the debtor has a beach cottage no one knew he had. Or a boat. Or some assets in a false name.
Whatever happens, you'll get back a straight story. You'll find out what the debtor is worth, or you'll find out he's bad news, and not worth chasing further. Very useful information, either way. You can make a sensible decision -- a practical, unemotional, business decision. Go for it, grab the boat. Or forget it, cut your losses.
Compare this precision -- and economy -- with the costs of blindly 'reaching for a lawyer'. Even ordinary lawyers cost $150 an hour or more. And they can't tell you whether it's worth chasing someone in the courts.
Common sense will tell you when you should use a private investigator. If you're chasing an individual or small company, and you aren't sure there's any money there, then a private investigator can be just right. But if a big company is stalling about a bill -- or maybe genuinely disputing it -- then you need a lawyer.