As a New York business owner, unfortunately you sometimes face the situation where a customer owes you money that (s)he does not pay when due. While technically neither you nor your business falls within the definition of a debt collector, if you hire an attorney or outside agency to collect the debt for you, (s)he or it does fall within the debt collector definition; i.e., someone who collects debt on behalf of a creditor.

As the Better Business Bureau explains, debt collectors must adhere to numerous federal and New York laws and regulations. Regardless of the fact that you do not qualify as a debt collector per se, should you decide to attempt to collect your customer’s debt yourself, you would do well to adhere to good debt collection practices.

Contacting your debtor

Assuming you know your debtor’s home phone number, you can contact him or her by phone. You should not, however, call him or her before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. Nor should you harass him or her with phone calls, such as calling several times a day or numerous times a week. The same rules apply if you contact your creditor by email or snail mail.

Necessary information

However you contact your debtor, you need to give him or her the following information:

  • Your identity
  • The amount of money (s)he owes you
  • The method(s) by which (s)he can pay that amount
  • The address to which (s)he can send the payment
  • The fact that (s)he can dispute this debt if (s)he believes she does not owe it

Under no circumstances should you ever use abusive language when talking with or writing to a debtor. Nor should you ever threaten him or her with criminal action if (s)he cannot or refuses to pay the debt.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.